Despite increased resources and the introduction of tougher powers, the Home Office has made” slower progress than expected” in managing foreign national offenders in the UK and in removing them to their home countries. The latest report published by the National Audit Office (NAO) highlights the fact that the number of foreign national offenders in prison and the numbers deported from the UK have remained broadly unchanged since 2006.
Across that period, the number of foreign national offenders in prison in the UK increased slightly (by 4%) from 10,231 to 10,649 despite a ten-fold rise in the number of Home Office staff working on foreign national offender casework. In the wake of an initial surge in the numbers removed from 2,856 in 2006-2007 to 5,613 in 2008-2009 (following the problems in 2006 when the Home Office discovered that 1,013 foreign national offenders had been released without being considered for deportation), removal numbers have now declined to 5,097 in 2013-2014.
With regard to prevention and early action, according to the NAO” the Government did relatively little” before December 2012 to tackle the problem of potential foreign national offenders entering the UK. A new 2013 Action Plan focused efforts on this aspect of prevention but, suggests the NAO, that document lacks” a structured and informed approach”. The Home Office is looking at better use of intelligence databases and has changed its immigration rules, but progress in modernising its border information system” designated the Warnings Index” has been slow. Indeed, the NAO estimates that