Tuesday, May 24, 2011

£25 milion cost of 'bribing' foreign criminals to go home

Half of foreign prisoners kicked out of the country are now “bribed” to go home costing the taxpayer millions of pounds, The Telegraph can disclose.

Almost 7,000 criminals have been removed from Britain in the past 16 months, but 47 per cent went only after taking advantage of a voluntary return programme which offers up to £1,500 in cash, a leaked document revealed. It also shows the trend is growing – just one in three prisoners deported in 2009 left under the voluntary programme.

The numbers mean that since the scheme began in 2006 the taxpayer has spent between £20 million and £25 million on persuading criminals who have no right to remain in the UK to go home.

The Coalition faced criticism last year after it emerged that it had trebled the value of the cash incentive to clear Britain's jails and detention centres of foreign offenders. Those who agree to go before they have even finished their sentence receive the largest payouts.

The incentives, first offered by the Labour government to avoid drawn-out deportation battles, were criticised by the Tories when in opposition.

Figures for last year have not been officially published but a UK Border Agency document meant for internal distribution shows that between January last year and last month, 6,989 foreign criminals were deported. Of these, 3,338 went under the repatriation scheme at a cost of between £7 million and £12 million.

In October last year, the Coalition reduced the value of the package to between £500 and £1,500 but made it all available in cash for the first time.

Earlier in the year the package was worth between £3,000 and £5,000 but only £500 of that was available in cash.

Between 2006 and 2009 some 3,860 offenders took advantage of the scheme at a cost of around £12 million.

One immigration source said the packages were "essentially bribes", adding: "If we could offer UK criminals such fantastic sums for their retraining, resettlement and housing, reoffending would drop massively." Sir Andrew Green, the chairman of MigrationWatch UK, said: "There is a case for encouraging returns but when it becomes quite so popular one wonders if it has gone a little too far."

In opposition, Dominic Grieve, who is now the Attorney General, called the scheme "simply outrageous".

Damian Green, who is now the Immigration Minister, said in opposition that Labour had abandoned any attempt at removing foreign criminals and was instead "paying them to leave". Now, he says the scheme is "practical" and will save money. The Home Office last night said it refused to comment on leaked documents.


Recent posts at CIS below

See here for the blog. The CIS main page is here.

1. The Problem with Obama's Immigration Plan (Op-ed)

2. Romney and Huntsman on Illegal Aliens (Blog)

3. New Wrinkle in H-1B Fraud: Stealing from the Taxpayers, Not the Workers (Blog)

4. 9/11's Triumvirate of Terrorist Travel: al Qaeda, Hezbollah, and Iran (Blog)

5. DoJ Zaps Discrimination vs. U.S. Citizens, but Very Rarely (Blog)

6. Golden Parachutes for Illegal Chipotle Workers? (Blog)

7. Amnesty for All Haitians in U.S., Save those Arriving in Last Four Months (Blog)

8. Security Gaps Still Present in Visa Waiver Program (Blog)

9. Senate Holds Hearing on Immigration Courts, II (Blog)

10. Senate Holds Hearing on Immigration Courts, I (Blog)

11. NYT Exposes Fraud in Yet Another Foreign Worker Program (Blog)

12. Border Exchange (Blog)

13. Post-Modern Journalistic Partisanship (Blog)

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