On Thursday, a flight to Nigeria and Ghana removed 11 Foreign National Offenders (FNOs) and 10 other Nigerian and Ghanaian nationals, with no right to be in the UK. Official figures show an alarming drop in the number of foreign criminals being deported from the UK in recent years. Immigration lawyers have been blamed for some of the decrease, after using European Human Rights laws to prevent many foreign offenders from being removed. Just last month, a removal flight landed in Jamaica with just seven of 112 foreign offenders originally scheduled to be deported to the island nation. There are currently 9,815 foreign criminals in UK prisons.
Of those who have been released from prison, 10,741 have been removed from the UK since January 2019. But figures also show the number being deported has slowed significantly in recent years. More than 11,300 foreign offenders are currently back in communities across the UK, awaiting deportation to their home countries. That figure is nearly double what it was four years ago. Alarmingly, Home Office figures also show that almost 3,500 of those awaiting deportation have been out of prison for more than five years. At the same time, the number of “Highest Harm” offenders being removed has fallen by more than half over the past eight years.
956 of those released after serving sentences for murder, rape and drug dealing were removed last year. That compares to 2,200 “Highest Harm” criminals who were deported in 2013. The deal with Nigeria is planned to help introduce a quicker removal process for Foreign National Offenders and those with no right to remain in the UK.
It is a different type of deal to the economic partnership with Rwanda, announced in April. That agreement is designed to process asylum seekers, who arrive in the UK by “irregular routes,” in the central African nation instead. Plans to send a flight of asylum seekers to the Rwandan capital earlier this month were blocked by the European Court of Human Rights, after a judge in Strasbourg ruled the flight should be halted. Home Secretary Priti Patel praised the deal announced on Thursday with Nigeria.
She said: “It is an important development that the UK and Nigeria have signed an agreement to co-operate on migration issues, to tackle illegal migration and the significant threat it poses to both nations. “The deal will mean that operational teams in both countries will share their expertise to take the fight to criminal people smugglers who are responsible for a wider range of criminality and put profit before people while undermining the security of our two countries. “This landmark agreement will increase the deportation of dangerous foreign criminals to make our streets and country safer.” The Foreign National Offenders deported to Nigeria and Ghana Thursday had been sentenced to combined prison terms of more than 64 years.