John Vine CBE QPM, the Independent Chief Inspector of the UK Border Agency, has published a thematic inspection report of how the UK Border Agency manages foreign national prisoners.
The Chief Inspector was pleased to find that:
more foreign national prisoners were being deported more quickly under Early Removal or Facilitated Returns Schemes; and
the Agency was routinely monitoring the number of foreign national prisoners deported, the number detained and the length of detention.
However, the Chief Inspector was concerned to find that:
* a significant number of the Agency?s decisions to deport foreign national prisoners were overturned on appeal, at considerable cost to the taxpayer;
* the overwhelming majority of those who had yet to be deported were detained at the end of their custodial sentence, with insufficient evidence that the likelihood of re-offending was assessed fully in individual cases; and
* more needed to be done to manage the rise in the number of foreign national prisoners whom the Agency had not deported or could not deport immediately and were therefore detained or released into the community.
John Vine, Independent Chief Inspector of the UK Border Agency, said:
“In 2010, 5,235 foreign national prisoners were deported with more than 2,500 leaving the UK under the Facilitated Returns Scheme, a cost-effective method of deportation. I was pleased to find that the Agency had placed greater emphasis on this scheme with 19 per cent more foreign national prisoners deported than in 2009.
“However, the Agency can still improve the way it handles foreign national prisoners. A significant number of appeals continue to be allowed against decisions to deport, in most cases because deportation would breach the UK?s obligation to the individual under the Human Rights Act. The Agency must work to reduce the number of decisions overturned on appeal and take full account of the courts? decisions in deciding whether deportation action is appropriate or whether it would breach a person?s rights under Article 8. If not, there will continue to be a cycle of appeals, at considerable cost to the taxpayer even though the outcome will eventually be that the foreign national prisoner is entitled to remain in the UK.
“Secondly, my file sample of 97 foreign national prisoner cases indicated that 94 (97 per cent) of those who had yet to be deported were detained at the end of their sentence with no evidence of an assessment of the risk they posed to the public. In my view, there remains a culture within the Agency where the default position is to identify factors that justify detention rather than considering each case in accordance with published policy.
“Finally, I found a rise in the number of foreign national prisoners whom the Agency has not deported or cannot deport immediately at the end of their sentence and are therefore detained or released into the community. At the time of inspection, 3,775 former foreign national prisoners had been released from custody and were living in the community. In addition, over 1,600 foreign national prisoners remained in detention, having completed their sentence. More must be done to actively manage these cases – they represent a growing cost to the taxpayer and cannot be ignored.”