Foreign prisoner deportation 'should be sped up'

Prisoner behind bars

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Foreign inmates are not being deported quickly enough to help cut costs and relieve overcrowding, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has said.

The Commons' committee also said more should be done to prepare UK prisoners for early release.

It urged the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) to look at its standards as a "matter of urgency".

The government said it was cutting the number of foreign prisoners and this would remain a "top priority".

NOMS, which manages 116 public prisons in England and Wales and the contracts of 14 private prisons, is responsible for a prisoner population of about 84,000.

'Really disturbing'

But Labour MP and chair of the PAC Margaret Hodge said its record on reducing the number of foreign national prisoners was "frustratingly poor".

"It's quite shocking that the people responsible just can't get a grip of the backlog and deal with this big bulk of people in our prisons," she said.

"Just deport those people who've chosen to come and live here, who've committed a crime which commits them to prison and who should therefore lose the right to come here."

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme she said: "This has been going on for years and years and years - this isn't a partisan point.

"What was really disturbing was that between 2009 and 2012, the number of people being deported actually got less."

Margaret Hodge Labour MP Margaret Hodge chairs the Public Accounts Committee

The PAC report said that about 1,000 foreign national offenders were deported per quarter - roughly the same as the number of foreign nationals convicted in the same period.

This meant the overall number of foreign nationals in the UK's prisons remained around 11,000 - or 13% of the total prison population. They cost around £300m a year, according to the committee.

The report recommended that NOMS work with the Home Office to identify and remove barriers to removing foreign offenders.

Start Quote

We are working hard to reduce the numbers in our prison system”

End Quote Jeremy Wright Justice minister

Changes, such as the ratification of prisoner transfer arrangements across Europe, could provide an opportunity to remove foreign criminals more efficiently, it suggested.

The Chief Inspector of Prisons, Nick Hardwick, said lots of foreign prisoners would rather be returned and the failure to deport them was a missed opportunity.

"There are some quick wins," he told BBC Radio 5 live. "Prisoners who should go back, who want to go back, whose countries would not have a problem about having them back - and yet they get missed sometimes."

But Justice Minister Jeremy Wright said the "vast majority... do a great deal to frustrate our efforts to sent them home".

"Very often, prisoners will tell us that they wish to challenge their deportation through the courts," he said.

He said he accepted the foreign prison population was too large but added: "Whether it's negotiating prisoner transfer agreements, where prisoners don't have the option about going home, or whether it's about reducing appeal rights against deportation, these are very real measures to get those numbers down."

'Well managed'

The committee did praise NOMS for making "significant savings in running costs", estimated to be worth £70m a year, by 2015-16.

The service is facing a £650m reduction in its £3.4bn budget.

The cuts strategy had been "well managed", Mrs Hodge acknowledged, with "experienced and consistent leadership".

Welcoming improvements in value for money, the PAC said new prisons were providing good, modern accommodation.

But it said inmates were still having to share cells, sometimes in overcrowded conditions, and that some high performing prisons had been closed before new ones were up to standard.

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  68.  
    15:33: Boris on a 'Brexit'

    London Mayor Boris Johnson continues in his Time magazine article on a theoretical British exit from the European Union: "I must be clear. I think there would be a pretty testy, scratchy period... [but] it wouldn't be disastrous." Mr Johnson also fails to rule out running in a US election (he holds dual citizenship), but he rejects any comparisons with Winston Churchill outright. "My resemblance to Churchill is as great as my resemblance to a three-toed sloth," he says.

     
  69.  
    15:29: Boris on a 'Brexit'
    Boris Johnson at the Conservative party conference

    London Mayor Boris Johnson has given an interview to Time magazine in which he offers a fairly positive prediction on what would happen if Britain left the European Union. "I think Brexit is possible ... [Britain] would very rapidly come to an alternative arrangement that protected our basic trading interests," he says.

     
  70.  
    @daily_politics BBC Daily Politics
    Fracking protesters

    tweets: Shale gas and #fracking plan hold-ups across the UK, reports @EllieJPrice in #bbcdp film from #Lancashire http://bbc.in/1ty7agN

     
  71.  
    15:11: Missing data Dominic Casciani Home affairs correspondent, BBC News

    BBC home affairs correspondent Dominic Casciani reports that the government so far thinks there was no "malicious intent" relating to the missing data, but one member of staff has been suspended. Concurrent investigations are being conducted by the Ministry of Justice and the Information Commissioner.

     
  72.  
    15:06: Miliband responds to Milburn's NHS attack
    Ed Miliband

    Ed Miliband has responded to criticism earlier this week of the party's NHS plans by the former Labour health secretary, Alan Milburn. Mr Milburn warned it would be a "fatal mistake" not to promise reform as well as extra funding.

    Mr Miliband said: "We're putting a very clear offer to the people of Britain on the National Health Service. Labour is the only party with a funded and credible plan to raise extra resources for the NHS for more doctors, nurses, midwives and care workers. It's a plan to invest in the NHS and to reform it as well, linking it up from home to hospital."

     
  73.  
    15:01: Missing data Danny Shaw Home affairs correspondent, BBC News
    Ministry of justice

    As we've been reporting, discs containing information from three of the UK's most sensitive inquiries have gone missing after being put in the post. The material relates to inquiries into the role of the police in the deaths of three members of the public - including Mark Duggan and Azelle Rodney. The Metropolitan Police - whose officers were involved in those cases - says it is taking the data breach "very seriously".

    The Met says it has "risk assessed" the material and taken "appropriate" steps, as well as offering its support to the Ministry of Justice investigation. But it is not conducting its own investigation.

     
  74.  
    @BBCDomC Dominic Casciani, BBC Home Affairs Correspondent

    tweets: Missing data story: Ministry of Justice won't say what's missing, where it was sent from and who to. No evidence so far it was malicious

    and

    tweets: Major investigation involving security-vetted lawyers. Officials won't say if missing info includes personal details of protected witnesses

     
  75.  
    14:46: 'Come to terms with failure' in Iraq House of Commons Parliament
    Rory Stewart

    Conservative MP Rory Stewart says a major factor in the continuing debate on the Iraq war is an inability "to come to terms with failure, our inability to come to terms with what went wrong in Iraq".

    The chairman of the Defence Select Committee argues that the debate "can't just be reduced to legality and post-war planning" but is about the UK's role in the world and understanding "our limits".

    In 2003, Rory Stewart, a former army officer, was appointed as the Coalition Provisional Authority's deputy governor of a province in southern Iraq.

     
  76.  
    @GuidoFawkes Guido Fawkes

    tweets: Boris TIME "I think Brexit is possible... [Britain] would very rapidly come to an alternative arrangement that protected our basic interests

     
  77.  
    14:36: Post-election scenarios
    Nick Clegg and David Cameron

    For the New Statesman's May2015.com site, Philip Cowley highlights four issues he feels are being misunderstood - or outright missed - in all the post-election forecasting being done.

     
  78.  
    14:30: 'Demand that report' House of Commons Parliament

    Pete Wishart rises to make his own speech in the Iraq Inquiry debate.

    "If anyone needs to know why this House was duped it is us, the parliamentarians," he argues.

    He says the wording of the backbench motion for debate today "should have demanded that report".

    The SNP MP adds that his vote against the Iraq invasion in 2003 was "the proudest vote of my 14 years in this House".

    Pete Wishart
     
  79.  
    PoliticsHome blog

    tweets: SNP MP Pete Wishart on Iraq: "I do believe this is going to go all the way to The Hague. This was an illegal war."

     
  80.  
    @RebeccaKeating Rebecca Keating, BBC parliamentary reporter

    tweets: . @Ed_Miliband tells the BBC @David_Cameron needs to "man up" and agree to televised election debates #GE2015

     
  81.  
    Labour and immigration The Daily Telegraph
    Ed Miliband and Nigel Farage

    After Labour MP and mayoral hopeful David Lammy attacked his own party's campaign leaflets for trying to "out-UKIP UKIP" on immigration, Telegraph columnist Dan Hodges has joined the debate, describing the leaflets as "an aberration" and accusing Ed Miliband of hypocrisy over immigration.

     
  82.  
    14:20: Tough at the top London Evening Standard Newspaper
    Nick Clegg

    Joseph Watts at the Evening Standard reports that one (unnamed) senior figure in the Liberal Democrats has claimed today that the party must win at least 45 seats in the general election if Nick Clegg is to stay on as leader: "The respected figure argued that fewer would make it impossible to join a governing coalition, predicting that the Lib Dem leader would 'fall on his sword'."

     
  83.  
    14:08: Breaking News

    The Ministry of Justice confirms the missing material - which it says went missing after being sent in the post - relates to three investigations that examined the roles of police in the death of three members of the public. Two inquiries relate to fatal police shootings of crime suspects in London - Mark Duggan and Azelle Rodney. The third relates to the 1997 murder of Robert Hamill in Northern Ireland, which campaigners allege involved the collusion of police officers. In each inquiry there were witnesses, including police officers, who were given anonymity because of possible threats to their safety - but officials have refused to confirm whether any of the missing documents include personal information relating to these witnesses.

     
  84.  
    14:05: Breaking News

    The Ministry of Justice says data from three semi-secret inquiries has gone missing on discs lost in the post.

     
  85.  
    @DArcyTiP Mark D'Arcy, Today In Parliament correspondent

    tweets: Congrats to @Plaid_Cymru Westminster leader Elfyn Llwdd just promoted to the "Hon Member for Wales" in @HouseofCommons debate on #Chilcot

     
  86.  
    14:01: Blair-Bush Iraq notes to be revealed
    George Bush and Tony Blair

    As MPs debate the Iraq inquiry in the Commons, the chair of the inquiry Sir John Chilcot has said former prime minister Tony Blair's notes to former US president George W Bush will be published with only "a very small number of essential redactions". That's a big shift from last year, when only "quotes and gists" were set to be made public.

     
  87.  
    13:58: Migrant voters The Guardian

    Over at The Guardian, Robert Ford and Ruth Grove-White of migrant support group The Migrant's Network write that with immigration set to be a key debate in the election campaign, "remarkably little is known about the millions of migrant voters who will be eligible to cast a vote".

     
  88.  
    13:42: Miliband in Scotland

    Ed Miliband is in Scotland to make a promise: an incoming Labour government will bring forward a home rule bill within the first 100 days. Mr Miliband is campaigning in Glasgow with the Scottish Labour leader, Jim Murphy to win over wavering voters who may be attracted by the SNP. He announced plans to change the party's constitution in Scotland to allow Mr Murphy to make decisions on devolved issues. "It is absolutely for Jim to make those decisions," Mr Miliband said. His visit comes as bookmaker William Hill makes the SNP odds-on to win more seats in Scotland than the Lib Dems will across the whole of the UK.

     
  89.  
    13:35: Iraq inquiry debate House of Commons Parliament
    Elfyn Llwyd in the Commons

    Plaid Cymru MP Elfyn Llwyd says the big problem with the Iraq inquiry was the questioning. He would have liked a judge-led inquiry with a counsel doing the questioning, as was the case with the Leveson inquiry. "Something must be done urgently, otherwise this parliament will be the laughing stock of the world."

     
  90.  
    Leader effect? Democratic Audit

    tweets: What effect does a leader's visit have on a party's vote in a constituency?

     
  91.  
    13:31: Iraq inquiry debate House of Commons Parliament

    Former attorney-general Dominic Grieve says the delay to the report is "very regrettable" - and the most concerning bit is the delay since mid-2014. "I find it strange we should now be in February 2015, and it seems the Maxwellisation process [providing witnesses with an opportunity to the bits of the report in which they're mentioned] is going so very slowly." He thinks it should only have taken "a few months".

     
  92.  
    13:30: Iraq inquiry protest
    Stop the War protest

    As the debate on the Chilcot report rages inside parliament, Stop the War Coalition protesters are demonstrating outside.

     
  93.  
    Should Labour move Left? YouGov

    tweets: YouGov analysis of what it might mean for Labour to abandon the centre ground.

     
  94.  
    13:22: Iraq inquiry debate House of Commons Parliament
    George Galloway in the Commons

    George Galloway, in one of his rare Commons appearances, is speaking - well, actually shouting - in the Iraq inquiry debate. "The world is hurling to disaster," he tells MPs. "The decisions made in here [the Commons] on the basis of the arguments made by the government at the time has torn Iraq and and its region asunder. It has... incalculably inflated the dangers of extremism and fanaticism." He says the failure of Sir John Chilcot's inquiry to report is akin to "Pontius Pilate" because it is "washing our hands of something that is bleeding us at home and abroad".

     
  95.  
    Robin Brant Political Correspondent, BBC News

    tweets: both barrels from @georgegalloway in debate on #chilcot delay, ultimately blames 'this parliament' for failing to hold lab govt to account

     
  96.  
    Undecided? Vote Match

    Tweets: Launch nears for Vote Match online quiz to help you find the party that best matches your views.

     
  97.  
    @Number10gov Downing Street

    Tweets: PM: I've asked for update on our heavy snow contingency plans. Gritters are out & people should listen to warnings #WeatherAware @MetOffice

     
  98.  
    13:02: Iraq inquiry delay House of Commons Parliament
    David Davis in the Commons

    In the Commons, Conservative backbencher David Davis begins the debate on the Iraq inquiry. MPs are expected to express their frustration that Sir John Chilcot's report hasn't been published yet. Davis says: "No-one in this House knows why this delay has occurred, not even the minister. There's not enough information in the public domain." He doesn't believe the witnesses are foot-dragging, though - instead Davis suspects the clash between Chilcot and Whitehall is at the heart of the problem.

     
  99.  
    12:59: Energy price wars

    Labour, facing criticism from the Tories for sticking to their energy price freeze policy in the face of falling prices, has suggested the government is to blame because it refused to give the regulator the power to cut bills. "They now have nobody else to blame for the failure of the energy companies to pass on the full savings from wholesale cost falls to all consumers," shadow energy and climate change secretary Caroline Flint says.

     
  100.  
    12:55: Nigel Farage misses his pint Daily Politics Live on BBC Two
    Nigel Farage in the pub

    UKIP leader Nigel Farage, who has been steering clear of booze as part of 'Dry January', says his experiment in teetotalism hasn't been a success. "I don't feel any better at all," he declares on the Daily Politics. "I find getting to sleep harder, not easier. I have to say, on Sunday I shall be rejoining the drinking classes - with a pint of bitter."

     

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