Government failing to deport foreign criminals, MPs say

Damning report warns inaction could lessen public support for EU ahead of referendum

(Image credit: 2003 Getty Images)

MPs have condemned the government for failing to deport foreign criminals from Britain.

A highly critical report by the Home Affairs select committee said it was "deeply concerning" that there are now more overseas offenders on the streets than at any point since 2012.

The top three nationalities were Polish, Irish and Romanian, which leads the public "to question the point of Britain remaining a member of the EU", the report says.

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However, The Guardian points out that the committee MPs were evenly split over the controversial claim and the report was only passed on the casting vote of chairman Keith Vaz.

"The public would expect our membership of the EU to make it easier to deport European offenders, but this is clearly not the case," said the Labour MP.

His committee's "endorsement of an anti-EU position on such an emotive issue" was immediately seized on by Brexit campaigners, the newspaper adds.

Among them was justice minister Dominic Raab, who said: "The EU is making us less safe. If we take back control, we will be able to deport foreign criminals from our prisons."

But Labour MP Chuka Umunna has hit back and accused Brexiters of trying to hijack the report to further their campaign.

"Any attempt to portray the findings as a reason to leave the EU would be wrong, deeply misleading and another example of how desperate the Leave campaigns have become," he said.

Home Secretary Theresa May, who is backing the Remain side but advocates withdrawing from the European Convention on Human Rights, told the BBC the government had removed a record number of EU criminals from Britain last year.

"Being in the EU gives us access to criminal records sharing and prisoner transfer agreements which help us better identify people with criminal records and, allow us to send foreign criminals back to their home countries to serve their sentences," she said.

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