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Firearms: Crime

Volume 472: debated on Wednesday 20 February 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many (a) non-EU citizens and (b) foreign nationals were convicted of (i) firearms and (ii) drug offences in Britain in each of the last 12 months. (182764)

Information on the total number of foreign nationals convicted for firearms and drug offences are not held centrally. The central databases of criminal court cases collect information on defendants’ ethnicities, but do not presently contain information on their nationalities. This is because, as a general rule, nationality is not germane to the outcome of criminal court proceedings. Defendants will not be asked their nationality by the court for this reason. Information on nationality may be recorded where it is specifically relevant to the case (e.g. immigration-related offences) but this would be held on local files and would not be systematically recorded on central databases.

However, in preparation of the implementation of the UK Borders Act 2007, the Crown court IT systems are being changed to allow for the collection of nationality data. This Act introduces automatic—rather than discretionary—triggers for the deportation of foreign nationals who meet certain sentencing criteria, and it will require more detailed recording of data on foreign national criminal defendants. Upgraded systems to meet this requirement are expected to be in place in late 2008.

Data held on the prison IT system do record the nationality of offenders. The following table gives the number of foreign national and EU national prisoners received into all prison establishments in England and Wales under immediate custodial sentences between 2004 and 2006.




Foreign nationals




EU nationals (not including UK nationals)





The foreign nationals data are taken from table 7.5 of the Offender Management Caseload Statistics 2006.

It should be noted, however, that only a percentage of defendants found guilty of offences receive a custodial sentence.