An initiative to reduce the number of foreign criminals, championed by Prime Minister David Cameron, has come under fresh scrutiny today as it emerged that the number of European criminals in British prisons is higher than ever before.
The EU Prisoner Transfer Agreement, which was enacted to enable British authorities to transfer foreign criminals to their home countries, appears to have only freed up seven prison spaces over the past few years.
The Daily Telegraph reports that while there are around 500 fewer foreign criminals in British prisons since 2010, the number of European prisoners increased from 3,670 to 4,700 over the same period.
Just 17 European criminals have been removed from British jails, while 10 Britons imprisoned abroad have returned, making the net end result of the scheme a mere seven extra prison space available.
Polish people now make up the largest group of foreign criminals in Britain’s prisons, with 938 in December 2013, up from 650 in September 2010. The group has overtaken Jamaicans as the largest group of foreigners.
Prisons minister Jeremy Wright told the Telegraph that the number of criminals deported “remains low”. He argued however, that the agreement was at “an early stage”. “Whereas this government has begun to reduce the foreign national population in prison since 2010, between 1997 and 2010 the number of foreign nationals in our prisons more than doubled.”
Around one in eight prisoners is a foreign national, costing the British taxpayer around £370m a year between them.