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Foreign Nationals in Prison

Volume 580: debated on Tuesday 6 May 2014

13. How many foreign nationals are in prison in England and Wales; and how many such people come from (a) non-EU countries with which the UK has compulsory prisoner transfer agreements and (b) EU member states which are signatories to the EU prisoner transfer agreement? (903853)

As of 2 May, there were 10,516 foreign national offenders in custody. There are 798 prisoners from non-EU countries with whom we have compulsory prisoner transfer arrangements, and 4,162 from EU member states. All EU member states will be subject to the EUPTA, but 10 countries have not yet implemented it.

All those people should be serving out their sentences in their home countries, and it is costing British taxpayers just south of £400 million a year to pay for their board and lodging. Yet in a written answer I received on 7 April, the Ministry of Justice confirmed that in the past five years, only five individuals have been compulsorily transferred to prisons in their own countries.

My hon. Friend is absolutely right that, wherever possible, these people should be serving their sentences in their own countries. He knows, from conversations on this subject that he and I have had, that huge effort is put into ensuring that they do so, but he knows too that this is not a straightforward matter. Many of those whom we would wish to transfer back to their own countries seek to resist that transfer. That is precisely why he and I are in favour of changes in the Immigration Bill, which will make it much more difficult for prisoners repeatedly to appeal their deportation, so that they can be transferred back to their own country. He will support it, I will support it, and I hope it will shortly become law.