Failure to deport foreign criminals costs 60m a year
The failure to deport foreign criminals is costing the taxpayer up to 60 million a year, figures show.
By Tom Whitehead, Home Affairs Editor
Published: 7:00AM GMT 04 Feb 2010
One in three detainees held in immigration centres are now foreign offenders who have finished a jail term but have still not been removed from the country.
In the case of 250 of them it is now more than a year since they ended their sentences but they are still here at the public's expense.
The figures make a mockery of Gordon Brown's pledge, shortly after becoming Prime Minister, that overseas criminals would be deported.
In any one month there are 1,250 former foreign prisoners in an immigration detention estate of around 3,000, which also hold failed asylum seekers and illegal immigrants.
Holding someone in such a facility costs 47,500 a year some 10,000 more than a prison place meaning the failure to quickly remove foreign offenders is costing the public some 59.3 million a year.
In July 2007, Mr Brown warned such offenders that “if you commit a crime you will be deported. You play by the rules or you face the consequences”.
Damian Green, the shadow immigration minister, said: “Every time this Government makes a promise to improve the immigration system it lets us down.
“Gordon Brown promised automatic deportation of foreign criminals, but we have over a thousand of them locked up very expensively in centres not designed to hold hardened criminals, many for over a year.
“This is not only a waste of our money, it is dangerous. The riots and fires we have seen at detention centres in recent years often come about because criminals become the dominant group inside the centre. Ministers try to talk tough on immigration, but they are still, after all this time, acting weakly.
Phil Woolas, the immigration minster, said: “We have made it clear that those who come to the UK and break the rules will not be tolerated. That is why we are removing more foreign criminals than ever before, including a record 5,400 in 2008. Detention is crucial in enforcing removal and protecting the public.
It emerged last week that more than 100 illegal migrants and foreign prisoners who escaped from removal centres in the last four years are still at large in Britain.
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