ALMOST 4,000 foreign criminals have dodged deportation and settled in Britain after the Government ruled there was no chance of removing them, according to startling official figures.
Over the past three years, the Home Office has abandoned 3,774 cases after deciding they would fall foul of human-rights rules preventing the criminals from being kicked out of the country.
A letter written by Lords Minister Baroness Williams, in response to a debate on the Government’s Immigration Bill, says 66 of the criminals were allowed to remain because removal would impinge on their family life. In 3,170 cases, no reason was specified. There were 836 such cases in 2017, 750 in 2018 and 1,584 last year.
Home Office sources said the exemptions could be due to criminals claiming that deportation would breach their human rights under European Union law.
Some will also be protected under the Geneva Convention on refugees and others will be EU nationals who can be removed only if they pose a ‘genuine and present threat’ to society. Campaigners last night said the figures provided stark evidence of the need for stronger Government action. Alp Mehmet, chairman of Migration Watch UK, said: ‘There are far too many barriers to deportation which prevent or delay the removal of foreign criminals.
‘Such people, who have abused our hospitality and engaged in serious crimes, should be removed as quickly as possible.
‘The safety of the UK public has to come first and if the law needs to change to make it possible, that is what must be done.’ It emerged last week that 28 migrants who had been scheduled for deportation had their removals blocked after 11th-hour appeals by lawyers. Eighteen of them were lodging human-rights claims for the first time, seven said they were victims of modern slavery, and the remaining three launched judicial reviews.
Home Office accounts reveal that almost £1 billion is being spent each year on operating costs for immigration enforcement and processing visa applications.
The Government’s post-Brexit Immigration Bill, which received Royal Assent last week, includes a points-based system and new rules allowing EU criminals to be barred from the UK in the same manner as those from outside the EU.
In June, it was reported that 9,413 foreign criminals live in the UK, up from 3,943 in 2012. A further 9,000 are in jail, while 4,743 were deported last year.
A Home Office spokesman said last night: ‘Our priority is to keep the British public safe and we are doing everything possible to reduce legal challenges and increase the numbers of foreign national offenders and those with no right to remain in the UK being removed.’