EU prisoners 'will avoid deportation'

Thousands of criminals from European countries, including those convicted of violent offences, will not even be considered for deportation unless they spend more than two years in prison, the Home Office has admitted.

EU prisoners 'will avoid deportation'
The policy means that violent foreign criminals may be released back on to Britain's streets despite the Prime Minister pledging a crackdown on law-breaking foreigners.

An internal Prison Service memo said the Border and Immigration Agency had "no interest" in deporting foreign prisoners serving less than a year in jail.

But it has emerged that the policy is even more lax for prisoners from 30 European countries who can spend up to two years in prison before being considered for deportation. There are about 2,500 European prisoners in Britain's jails.

Criminals not facing deportation under the 12-month exemption included burglars, drug dealers and sex offenders. However, the higher 24-month exemption for Europeans also includes those of violent offenders.

European Union rules stipulate that only criminals considered a "serious threat" can be deported. However, other European countries have taken a more hard-line approach to ejecting convicted criminals.

Mr Brown and his Home Office ministers are now facing calls to explain the Government's failure to deport thousands of foreign criminals amid accusations that ministers are ducking the issue.

A senior Home Office official was forced to defend the controversial policy which appears to directly contradict assurances given by Mr Brown, who said in June: "If you [foreigners] commit a crime you will be deported from our country."

Last night, Nick Herbert, the shadow justice secretary, demanded that Mr Brown should publicly explain the apparent U-turn.


Güncelleme Tarihi: 22 Aralık 2007, 22:03