Thousands of foreign criminals are free to commit crimes sprees in the UK as Britain’s hands are tied by European laws stopping them being deported, an MP has said.
Numbers of foreign criminals behind bars continue to rise and anyone who cannot abide by the law should leave the country, Shipley MP Philip Davies said.
He is supporting a backbench attempt to introduce a law to deport all foreign national criminals from the UK before or after their prison sentence. But given Britain is part of the EU, EU offenders could not be forced home.
Mr Davies said it was ludicrous that EU citizens can commit crimes in the UK and Parliament had no power to stop it.
“A criminal is a criminal wherever they come from, we should not be giving preferential treatment to criminals because they are from the EU, but yet this is what we have to do because we are bound by Europe.”
Mr Davies added: “No other country in the world would put its citizens at such risk, or cost. We need a fair immigration policy with a tough stance of foreign offenders – regardless of their country of origin. We need to send a clear message that foreign citizens are welcome to come and live safely and contribute positively to the UK, however if you compromise this safety yourself or abuse our hospitality you cannot stay or return to this country. No-one should have a right to remain in our country once they commit a crime here.”
Numbers of foreign nationals in prison has topped 10,000 each year for a decade and numbers of Eastern Europeans are soaring in recent years.
Current legislation means a foreign national can be deported if they are sentenced to 12 months in prison, but judges have given shorter sentences to avoid deportation. Mr Davies said changing the law to any sentence would close any loophole.
There are 4,247 foreign national offenders in the community, in addition to the 10,649 behind bars, according to the National Audit Office. EU nationals account for nearly 5,000 of the foreign criminals.
Mr Davies said: “A Government’s duty is to protect its citizens – not leave them liable to be burgled, robbed, raped or even killed by those we have generously allowed to come to this country for their own benefit.”
Free movement of people has been exploited and goes hand in hand with free movement of criminals. Prison populations in Romania and Poland have fallen year on year but numbers of Romanians and Polish in UK prisons is soaring.
Mr Davies said: “This shows that these countries have the capacity not only to take the offenders of their nationality back, but also that to an extent offenders are specifically targeting the UK to come and commit crimes.
“We are letting people walk in from Europe not knowing if they are criminals and then they come here and commit crime and we cannot send them back. It is absolutely ludicrous that this democratic Parliament cannot change this. The only way we can pass a law to send all foreign criminals back is to leave the EU.”
Last year a report by the Commons Public Accounts Committee said little progress had been made removing foreign national in the past eight years.
Dealing with foreign national offenders costs an estimated £850 million a year, but it is feared the actual cost could top £1 billion.
Mr Davies also demanded tightening up of deportation procedures and not allowing the offender to be released, given the risk for absconding.