Brexit campaigners have revealed a 240 per cent increase in European Union (EU) convicts filling prisons in England and Wales at the same time that Eastern European prisons shrink.
Figures published by the Grassroots Out campaign for EU withdrawal show the number of EU nationals in prison in England and Wales rose by more than 240 per cent between 2002 and 2014, reports The Express.
With a total of 10,500 foreign inmates in British jails last year, the 4,600 from the EU represents just under half. However, the numbers have grown considerably in the last decade, from 1,763 in 2002 to 4,252 in 2014.
The figures show that the number of Poles in UK jails stood at 867 last year, up 2,000 per cent from 2002. For Romanians the number was 614, up by more than 1,200 per cent, and 542 Lithuanians represent a growth of more than 1,000 per cent.
The costs of housing EU prisoners in UK jails are considerable, and met by the British taxpayer. Polish prisoners cost more than £30 million, Romanians over £22 million, and Lithuanians about £17 million.
Although Britain has the right to send home EU prisoners, using a transfer agreement to make them serve out the rest of their sentences in their home states’ prisons, in the year to May 2015 only 19 such convicts had been repatriated.
On other hand, prison numbers have dramatically decreased in Eastern Europe. Romania has 3,882 fewer inmates since it joined the EU, Latvia has 3,092 fewer, and Poland’s number has decreased by 2,997.
UKIP’s deputy leader, Paul Nutall, commented on the revelation saying: “These figures represent either an amazing coincidence or, more likely, these countries are emptying their prisons and filling ours up.
“First we are the victims of China’s steel dumping. Now we are the victim’s of eastern Europe’s convict dumping. Britain is clearly becoming the EU’s Alcatraz, a prison island that is filling up with foreign criminals.”
The figures emerged only days after a ruling from the European Court of Justice (ECJ) barred EU member states from sending prisoners to their home countries to serve out prison terms if their human rights are threatened there. That ruling stopped Germany from extraditing suspected criminals to Romania and Hungary because prison conditions in those countries could harm their human rights.
Former Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling, slammed the ECJ ruling as evidence the European Arrest Warrant does not work, adding:
“We’ve seen people who shouldn’t be taken to other countries being moved over there, while genuine criminals can’t be moved back because of human rights laws.”