the Home Secretary has been accused of presiding over a “complete failure” to deport foreign criminals.
A damning report today reveals the multi-million pound cost of providing compensation to foreign criminals as a result of delays and uncertainties at the Home Office.
MPs on the Public Accounts Committee say they were shocked to learn the Home Office was forced to pay out £6.2m in compensation payments to 229 foreign national offenders because of Home Office delays in dealing with cases since April 2012 – an average of £27,000 each
Hundreds of foreign offenders, including rapists and violent criminals, have also gone missing as they await deportation, the report revealed.
The influential committee said the Home Office’s record on deporting foreign criminals released from prison has steadily got worse since they last looked at the issue eight years ago. The number of offenders removed from the UK peaked at 5,613 in 2008–09 and has not matched that level since.
Worse still, the committee said, as of March 2014 there were still 4,247 foreign national offenders out of prison awaiting removal, with around 758 of these having absconded.
Hitting out at the Home Office, committee chairman Margaret Hodge joined colleague Richard Bacon MP and said: “Despite firm commitments to improve and a massive ten-fold increase in resources, the system still appears to be dysfunctional.”.
Ms Hodge added: “There has been a complete failure to improve the management and removal of foreign national offenders. Despite firm commitments to improve and a massive ten-fold increase in resources, the system still appears to be dysfunctional.”
The MP added: “There is a worrying combination of a lack of focus on early action at the border and police stations, poor joint working in prisons, inefficient caseworking, very poor management information and non-existent cost data.
“Opportunities to prevent foreign nationals committing offences and going to prison are being missed.
“There is a lack of data at the border on crimes that have been committed overseas which increases the risk of foreign criminals entering the UK undetected.
Last night shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper laid into the Government’s deportation record.
She said: “This report makes clear that Theresa May has never treated the problem of foreign criminals as a priority. She needs to take responsibility now for four and a half years of growing chaos and incompetence that is not only undermining trust in the immigration system, and putting public safety at risk.”
Also expressing outrage at the system was Jonathan Isaby, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance. He said: “The Home Office must act quickly to address the findings of this damning report or public trust will be seriously damaged.
“The myriad failings are staggering and show a desperate need to tear up the system and start again, as the cost of delays and compensation is truly eye-watering.
“Even by the standards of this often embattled Department, managing to lose one in six foreign criminals is shocking and people must be held accountable for these errors.”
The committee recommends that the Home Office sets out how it will improve the management of foreign national offenders with specific measures against which it expects to be held accountable.