Nearly 500 foreign criminals including violent offenders had gone off the radar after the Home Office took too long to deport them following their release from prison.
Data obtained under a Freedom of Information request shows that between 2014 and March 2016, a total of 494 foreign national offenders (FNOs) went missing after they were released into the community while authorities arranged for them to be removed from the UK.
Foreign criminals set for deportation, who would have been required to check in with the Home Office at set times after completing their custodial sentence, are marked as having absconded if their “whereabouts are unknown and all mandatory procedures to re-establish contact with the migrant have failed”.
Figures released by the ministry last week — two years after the information was initially requested — showed that 169 FNOs absconded in 2014, followed by 250 in 2015, and 75 who went missing in the January, February, and March of 2016.
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) January 5, 2017
While many later turned up, the whereabouts remained unknown as of last month for more than 200 of the criminals. Among those still unaccounted for include FNOs with convictions for rape and other sexual crimes, violence, burglary, forgery, fraud, and illegal possession of weapons, The Telegraph reports.
Tory MP Tim Loughton described as “extraordinary” the fact the Home Office permits so many convicted foreign criminals to “roam free to do as they wish whilst paperwork for their deportation is being sorted”.
“There should be a fast track deportation system from the prison to the plane with clear information sharing to make sure they do not gain entry again,” added the East Worthing and Shoreham MP, who sits on the Common Home Affairs Committee.
A spokesman for the Home Office said that more than 41,000 FNOs had been deported since 2010, adding: “We never give up trying to locate absconders and we are overhauling the reporting system.”
Home Secretary: There ‘May Be’ One Million Illegal Migrants in UK
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) October 18, 2017
However, Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration David Bolt said last year there was “little evidence” of the authorities taking action to track down absconded foreign nationals, in a report which revealed Amber Rudd’s Home Office had lost track of 56,000 migrants who were set to be deported.
Successive Conservative governments under Theresa May and her predecessor David Cameron have been accused of leaving Britain’s borders understaffed and lacking resources.
Immigration Services Union boss Lucy Moreton has noted that illegal immigrants can “survive very well” in the UK, where they access taxpayer-funded resources, as a result of Tory neglect of border security.
“If you don’t break the law we are not going to get you as we don’t have the resources. We can’t catch you,” she said in November.
The news of missing criminal migrants in the United Kingdom follows similar revelations in Europe. Breitbart London reported in 2016 the German government had misplaced 130,000 migrants. In one extreme example, a migrant due to be reported caused chaos as he escaped authorities at Hamburg airport, causing several flights to be cancelled as it was feared he had gone onto the runway.