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Foreign Offenders (Removal)

Volume 575: debated on Tuesday 11 February 2014

6. What recent steps he has taken to promote awareness among prosecutors of the tools available to secure the removal from the UK of low-level foreign offenders. (902539)

The Crown Prosecution Service has worked with the Association of Chief Police Officers and the UK Border Force to develop joint guidance for the foreign national offender conditional caution scheme in advance of its introduction in April 2013. Prosecutors are advised that where the criteria are met, there is a strong public interest in issuing a conditional caution to foreign national offenders.

I understand that 20 cautions were issued in the six months from April 2013 and that 13 were successful in removing the offender. What happened to the other seven?

It is important that the hon. Gentleman understands that any decision to go down that road pre-charge is for the police to make, not for the CPS. The CPS can be consulted and after charge, when it is reviewing cases, it may identify cases that it can recommend should go down that route and have the charges dropped. I cannot tell him what happened to the other seven; I shall try to find out and write to him. It is desirable that the project be taken forward. It is not without difficulty: there are human rights issues, and often people say they are asylum seekers or have claimed asylum and therefore cannot be removed. That said, the fact that even that small number of people have been removed seems to me to be a step in the right direction.

What happens when those foreigners have been repatriated? Are they allowed automatically to come back to this country at a later date, or are they banned from returning?

Generally speaking, they are banned from returning to the United Kingdom, at least for a period of time. It depends on the nature of the offence: in some cases, the offence will be an immigration offence and may lead to a ban for a period of time; a serious criminal offence is likely to lead to a ban for ever.

Last week, the Government introduced a new provision in the Immigration Bill allowing the Home Secretary to remove the British citizenship of people from other countries who have been naturalised. In cases where the individual is resident in this country, what will happen to them? Will they be banished from the realm? Will they be exiled, and if so, where to?

I think the hon. Gentleman has taken a slightly simplistic view. The measure passed by the House returns us to the status quo ante 2006, which allows for such a power to be exercised by the Home Secretary. Obviously, if that power is to be exercised it has to be exercised bearing in mind, first, whether the person may obtain another nationality, and secondly, whether they can be deported. A number of criteria can be brought into play before a decision is made on such a case.

The cost to the taxpayer of every 1,000 prisoners kept on the prison estate is £28 million. What work has my right hon. and learned Friend done and what advice has he given the Home Office and Ministry of Justice to expedite bilateral agreements with countries such as Ireland and Poland to bring about the quick removal of foreign national offenders?

I am not allowed to say what I do or do not advise on, but in countries such as Ireland and Poland—signatories to the European convention on human rights and fellow members of the EU—it ought to be possible by bilateral dialogue to speed up the removal of prisoners from the United Kingdom, either to serve the rest of their sentence in their country of origin, or deporting them at the end of their sentence.