David Barrett, Daily Mail, December 31, 2020
Foreign criminals handed jail sentences as short as six months will be assessed for automatic deportation for the first time under measures being considered by Priti Patel.
The Home Secretary is expected to dramatically tighten legislation on kicking out offenders.
Since 2007 foreign criminals have only been considered for removal from Britain if they were jailed for a minimum of 12 months.
Miss Patel wants to halve that, it is understood, in a move which would make it far easier to boot offenders out of this country.
It will apply to those from Europe as well as those from the rest of the world, as Britain will no longer be required to give special treatment to EU criminals.
The measures are likely to form part of the Sovereign Borders Bill, which is due to be published within the next few months.
Under plans currently being considered by the Home Office, the new Bill will update Labour’s 2007 UK Border Act which set out how those jailed for at least 12 months must be considered for automatic deportation.
As well as halving that requirement, the new Bill is expected to introduce a swathe of other changes which will make deportation easier.
The Home Office is also thought to be looking at increasing the number of removals flights which currently run at two a week.
In May, the Mail disclosed how the new law will streamline the asylum process, forcing claimants to lodge all their arguments at the beginning of a case.
This would stop them making a series of claims in the courts under different parts of human rights laws to delay their deportation.
Foreign criminals set to be thrown out of the UK will sometimes claim asylum at the last moment in order to avoid being put on a plane. Other tactics deployed by what the Home Office has described as ‘activist lawyers’ include making human rights claims or claims of ‘modern slavery’.
In October the Mail also revealed how the Government plans to reduce the scope of human rights laws. A loophole in Labour’s Human Rights Act, which has been exploited by murderers, rapists and other serious criminals, will be closed.
For the first time, restrictions will be placed on the use of Article 3 of the Act, which prohibits ‘torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment’.
The reforms will aim to eliminate use of Article 3 in farcical cases. It could include a complete ban on European Union nationals claiming they can’t be sent home for human rights reasons.
Miss Patel has also said she wants to introduce separate moves to stop violent criminals such as murderers and rapists claiming asylum in the UK in the first place.
The entire package of measures could mean the Government is able to remove hundreds more foreign criminals a year as more are brought under the scope of deportation laws and blocked from bringing spurious human rights claims.
The number of foreign national offenders deported this year fell to a record low as international travel ground to a halt during the pandemic.
The Home Office returned 1,128 serious foreign criminals, compared with 5,110 in 2019 and down from a high of 6,171 in 2016.
There was a period of several months last spring and summer when no removal flights could take place due to Covid-19. In total, a record 9,987 foreign national offenders are now living in the community, Home Office data has revealed.
It is up more than 150 per cent on the number in 2012, when the total stood at fewer than 4,000. The number surged because of Covid restrictions, with a record 846 freed between April and June.