Charles Hymas, The Telegraph, June 29, 2022
Deportations of convicted foreign rapists, murderers and robbers have fallen to their lowest numbers on record after a rise in human rights challenges.
Home Office figures show that the number of Category A foreign criminals and highest harm immigration offenders deported in the last year dropped 13 per cent to 956.
That is the lowest it has been since the Home Office began compiling figures in 2013, when the number stood at 2,205 before climbing to a peak of 2,555 in 2016.
It comes as the number of foreign criminals released from prison reached a record high of more than 11,000. Official figures show that, at the end of March, there were 11,300 foreign national offenders who had been released but not deported.
All are subject to deportation because they were given prison sentences of at least 12 months. It is nearly three times the number of a decade ago, when it was less than 4,000.
The Category A offenders include killers, robbers and sex offenders who have been able to fight deportation by arguing their right to a private or family life in Britain’s immigration courts.
‘Collapsing enforcement threatens safety’
Last month, a deportation flight of foreign criminals to Jamaica took off with just seven of its 112 passengers on board, leading Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, to criticise “meritless” legal claims.
Earlier this month, the first removals flight to Rwanda for migrants arriving in the UK via “irregular” routes was grounded after last-minute challenges, including human rights claims to a family life.
Britain has also struggled to negotiate returns agreements with countries following Brexit, although Ms Patel has signed deals with states including Albania, whose 1,500 criminals held in British jails account for a tenth of all foreign prisoners in the UK.
Home Office officials said there had been additional delays in removing foreign offenders because of travel restrictions during the Covid pandemic, although deportation numbers still fell after lockdown.
“Collapsing enforcement and the present border chaos threatens the safety of families,” said Dr Ben Greening, the executive director of the Migration Watch think tank.
“As removals of high harm individuals plummeted, the number of serious foreign criminals living in communities has more than doubled.”
Bill of Rights could cut deportation appeals
Among the cases were a Malawian rapist who won the right to remain because his deportation would breach the Article Eight rights of his sick wife and a Bangladeshi sex attacker who successfully argued his right to a family life in the UK because he had not offended for 13 years.
Dominic Raab’s Bill of Rights aims to “cut right back” the number of appeals against deportation by foreign criminals claiming breaches of their family life. Article Eight claims under the Human Rights Act account for 70 per cent of successful challenges.
The Bill will give ministers powers to restrict the circumstances in which offenders’ right to a family life would trump public safety and the need to remove them. A criminal would have to prove a child or dependent would come to “overwhelming, unavoidable harm” if they were deported.
Ms Patel’s Nationality and Borders Act will also allow the Government to deport foreign criminals up to 12 months before they finish their sentences instead of waiting until their release, and impose visa sanctions on countries refusing to take back their nationals convicted in the UK.
A Home Office spokesman said it “remained committed to removing foreign nationals with no right to be in the UK”.
The spokesman said that despite the challenges of the pandemic restricting Home Office’s ability to deport as many people as it would have liked, it had removed 10,742 foreign national offenders, including category A criminals, since 2019.