The Justice Minister defended the Government's prisons policy today after it was revealed that two of England's jails are wholly occupied by foreigners, saying it was speeding up deportation in a "cost-effective and efficient " way.
David Hanson said an "experiment" is taking place to see if the process can be carried out more quickly after it was revealed that two of England's prisons are wholly occupied by foreigners.
The first is Bullwood Hall, in Hockley, Essex, which holds 154 prisoners, while the second is Canterbury prison, which holds 284 foreign nationals serving less than four years.
Men convicted of crimes in the UK are being held there, with a view to some of them being deported.
Mr Hanson said on the BBC Breakfast programme: "What we're trying to do is to have an experiment to see whether we can speed up the deportation of foreign national prisoners, particularly those coming towards the end of their sentence.
"And the two prisons particularly have immigration officials working with them very closely, five in each prison, to help speed up the deportation of prisoners when they come to the end of their sentence.
"We've actually increased the level of deportation quite significantly over the past two years. Two years ago 1,500 prisoners were deported, last year 2,500, this year, in line with the Prime Minister's commitment, we're on target to achieve 4,000."
He said there were agreements in place with more than 100 countries for prisoners to serve their sentences in their home countries.
"But we can't just deport individuals on receiving their sentence in all cases, because there are a range of issues relating to that," he said.