One in every seven people arrested in Britain last year was foreign, new figures have revealed. The figures from the Association of Chief Police Officers show that police officers arrested 173,000 foreign suspects in 2013, with some having lengthy criminal records in their country of origin that should have stopped them entering the UK.
However, police only carried out checks on 30 percent of cases, with figure as low as six percent in some areas, meaning that offenders are being wrongly given bail when they should be detained, and in some cases are given sentences that are far too lenient as judges do not know their past.
The Daily Mail reports that the figures were released by ACPO following an investigation by BBC Radio 5 Live, and show that 14 percent of all arrests in England and Wales last year were of foreign nationals.
Although the last Labour government opted out of joining an EU-wide criminal data scheme known as the Schengen Information System, the UK does have access to a separate system known as ECRIS which can be used for any suspects within the UK’s borders. However, police officers are only bothering to use it in three in ten cases.
The revelation comes just days after a report revealed that foreign criminals, including a murderer, were awarded British citizenship after officials failed to check their backgrounds.
Keith Vaz, chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee said: “It is simply unacceptable that people with serious convictions could be allowed to enter the UK in the first place.
“We need to tighten up our borders and get as much information as possible from our EU partners.”
Meanwhile, Yvette Cooper, Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary, promised to tighten the rules on criminal checks if her party wins the next election.
“I think it’s shocking that we have had people including serious criminals and killers being given British passports and British citizenship because the Home Office failed to do basic checks,” she told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show.
Conservative MP Peter Bone blamed the EU’s free movement rules for allowing criminals to wander into the UK unchecked.
“If someone is coming from the European Union, and we’re talking about hundreds of thousands each year, there are no controls,” he said. “They’re not allowed to have controls, the EU won’t let you.”