We removed nearly 5,100 foreign criminals from the UK last year, and more than 22,000 since April 2010. More than 400 foreign national offenders have been removed under “deport now, appeal later” powers introduced in the Immigration Act 2014.
If we are to have a country that is at ease with itself, deporting foreign criminals, while not easy, is absolutely necessary. The Home Secretary and her Department have done a great job and have shown great leadership in this area. That bodes well for the future of the country under any Conservative Government. Does the Minister agree that if we are to have a country that feels at ease with itself even with minimal levels of immigration, we must continue to redouble our efforts to get rid of foreign criminals?
Foreign nationals who abuse our hospitality by committing crime in this country should be in no doubt about our determination to deport them. That is why we introduced the changes in the Immigration Act. Despite the 28% increase in the number of legal challenges, we are deporting foreign national offenders, and the measures we have taken are speeding up that process.
In response to my hon. Friend the Member for Huddersfield (Mr Sheerman) a couple of weeks ago, the Leader of the House was good enough to recognise the importance of the rights of children in deportation and removal cases. Does the Minister think it right that the Government are having more success in removing innocent children born in this country than in removing criminals from outside the country?
The Government have taken steps to ensure that deportation is appropriate, and some removal centres have family issues absolutely at their heart to ensure that where we remove those who should not be in this country, whether family units or otherwise, it is done appropriately. We have a proud record on reducing and dealing with the deportation of children.
19. Will the Minister join me in paying tribute to the work of Assistant Commissioner Rowley and the Operation Nexus team, who do so much to find hardened foreign criminals in our country? Does he agree that it is vital to identify these people and, where possible, get them out of the country?
I am grateful to my hon. and learned Friend for highlighting the work of Operation Nexus, which has succeeded in removing 3,000 foreign national criminals by identifying them early in the custody suites and by working alongside our immigration enforcement teams and the police. This approach enables us to deal with any issues at the earliest opportunity and see that these people are removed.
I can answer the hon. Lady’s question very directly—because there has been a 28% increase in the number of legal appeals. Despite all the appeals and legal challenges, however, we have removed 22,000 foreign national offenders. We are in no doubt about the Government’s resolve to deal with this issue. We introduced the Immigration Act and are speeding up the process. The Government are taking the right action.