Up to £1 billion of public money was spent last year on thousands of foreign criminals in the UK as hundreds living in the community - including dangerous offenders - went missing.
One in six - or 760 out of 4,200 - foreign national offenders (FNOs) living in the community have absconded, including 58 “high harm” individuals who have been missing since 2010, the Government’s spending watchdog has revealed in a shocking report.
Elsewhere, the National Audit Office (NAO) said police are failing to conduct overseas criminal record checks on more than two thirds of arrested foreign nationals.
Questions were recently raised over the effectiveness of police background checks following the case of now-dead Arnis Zalkalns, the prime suspect in the murder of schoolgirl Alice Gross who had served seven years for murder in his native Latvia.
Public bodies spent £850 million on foreign criminals, from a range of between £770 million and £1 billion, which it said equates to roughly £70,000 a year per criminal, the spending watchdog estimated.
Numbers of FNOs either in prison or deported from the UK have remained broadly unchanged since the 2006 crisis, it added.
There were 12,500 foreign national offenders in the country at the end of March this year, either in prison or living in the community pending removal from the country.
The Government has made “little progress” in dealing with FNOs since 2006, the NAO said, when the revelation that more than 1,000 foreign prisoners had been released without consideration for deportation led to the resignation of the-then Home Secretary Charles Clarke.
Conservative MP Philip Hollobone, who has long raised concerns about the number of foreigners in UK prisons, said: “Most people will be staggered that despite increasing its staffing for deportations from 100 to 900, the Home Office is not actually deporting any more FNOs than it was before.
“The public will also be concerned that at any one time over 4,000 convicted FNOs are at large within our communities and that of these over 700 go missing.”