Nearly 4,000 foreign criminals are still at large in the community despite being earmarked for deportation, it emerged last night.
Eight hundred have been free for more than five years and 2,500 were released from jail least two years ago.
The number of foreign offenders defying attempts to deport them will embarrass the Government.
The issue cost Charles Clarke his job as Home Secretary in 2006 when it emerged that more than 1,000 foreign prisoners had been freed without being considered for deportation.
The UK Border Agency said it was hampered by lengthy court procedures, problems in obtaining documents from other countries and deliberate attempts to frustrate the system.
Rob Whiteman, its chief executive, warned the Commons home affairs select committee that he could not guarantee a rapid reduction in numbers.
One foreign criminal frustrated nine attempts to deport him before he was finally removed from the country this year, Mr Whiteman said.
Michael Ellis, the Tory MP for Northampton North, said: “People are getting fed up with this.”
He said: “There are too many people who are foreign nationals committing criminal offences who surely should have been deported and it’s taking too long."
The Home Office said all of the 3,900 offenders were on bail.
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