Number of foreign national offenders in UK broadly unchanged despite Home Office efforts

A National Audit Office (NAO) report reveals the number of foreign national offenders (FNOs) deported from the UK remains broadly unchanged whilst the number of FNOs in prison has increased by 4% since 2006 despite a tenfold increase in Home Office staff working on FNO cases. 

By Sarah.Aston

22 Oct 2014

According to the NAO, at the end of March 2014, 12,250 FNOs in England and Wales were either serving terms in prison (10,649) or living in the community after prison pending removal action.

Although the report recognised that the Home Office faces considerable barriers to removing FNOs, the NAO found that of 1,453 failed removals in 2013 – 14, at least a third could have been avoided with better coordination of those bodies involved and less administrative errors.

The Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, Chair of the Committee of Public Accounts, said: “I am astounded that the number of foreign nationals in prisons has increased to 10,649 since 2006 and that, of those released, 760 currently waiting to be deported have disappeared and around 150 are thought not to have been considered for deportation.”

The government has made changes to their approach to FNOs and since April 2013 all FNOs are considered for deportation. This change has led to an increase in removals from 4,722 in 2012-12 to 5,097 in 2013-14.

The government has also reduced the average time taken to deport FNOs from 369 days in 2012-13 to 319 days in 2013-14.

According to the NAO report, £70 million could be saved annually if all early identification opportunities are acted upon.

As part of the 2013 action plan, the Home Office has been looking at better ways of using intelligence databases and the border information system Warnings Index, but the NAO reports that progress has been slow.

Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office, said: “The government’s focus on preventative measures and early action is promising, but it has only just started to exploit these options.

“It needs to build on the momentum of its recent action plan, in particular taking advantage of relatively inexpensive and straightforward opportunities to make progress.”

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