3,000 prisoners to get boot
By Bob Roberts
Nearly 3,000 foreign prisoners in UK jails could be sent home to serve the rest of their sentences.
An agreement with Jamaica was signed in June and is close to completion – which means up to 1,400 inmates will be flown home. Further agreements are being sought with Nigeria, Vietnam and China, which account for another 1,700 prisoners.
Gordon Brown announced the measures to ease the overcrowding crisis after the jail population in England and Wales hit a record 81,538 last Friday, leaving just 500 places.
The Prime Minister told the Commons: “We will sign agreements so we can return prisoners as expeditiously as possible.” It was not clear what terms will be sort from other countries.
But the deals raised fears that sentences are not being enforced. Many Jamaican inmates are women drug “mules” and the deal could have an impact on the drugs market. Prisons Handbook editor Mark Leech welcomed the move but added: “It could send a signal that even if you get caught smuggling drugs you will only be sent back to Jamaica anyway.”
The Government was earlier criticised after it emerged two jails were set aside for foreign inmates. Shadow justice secretary Nick Herbert said: “There are currently 11,097 foreign inmates. If the Government kept its promise to deport them there'd be no reason to release prisoners early.”