Removal of Foreign Criminals - Main Points

The below summary was last updated November 2020

  • There are 18,400 foreign national offenders (FNOs) in the UK, including 9,000 in prisons (who made up 11% of a total prison population in 2019 of 82,200).
  • Non-EU FNOs make up around 5,100 (or 57%) of the total FNO population in prisons; the other portion (3,900, or 43%) consists of EU nationals (2019).
  • In the year to June 2020, there were also 9,400 FNOs living amongst the general public. This has more than doubled from just under 4,000 in 2012.
  • Under Section 32 of the UK Borders Act of 2007, non-EU “foreign criminals” sentenced to 12 months or more in prison are subject to automatic deportation.
  • Those recognised as refugees may also be stripped of their right to stay if convicted of a ‘serious crime’, i.e. leading to a sentence of imprisonment of at least two years.
  • There were 4,700 FNOs removed in the year to March 2020. The number of such returns fell from 6,200 in 2016. Returns averaged 5,300 (2010-19 - Home Office).
  • Returns of EU FNOs have risen over time, while the number of non-EU-national returns has fallen. Only 32% of those returned in 2018/19 were from outside the EU.
  • The average FNO is removed 139 days after release from prison.
  • Obstacles to removal include: ‘last minute’ asylum claims, Judicial Review applications, further representations, documentation issues and absconding.
  • Brexit change UK rules regarding the deportation of EU criminals. After 31 December 2020, foreign national offenders (including EU offenders) can be removed (under the same rules as non-EU offenders) if they receive a custodial sentence of at least 12 months (under the UK Borders Act 2007).
  • The estimated annual cost of administration of FNOs is £850 million, according to the National Audit Office (NAO).

Removal of Foreign Criminals Research


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