Hundreds of foreign criminals have absconded, figures reveal
Rapists and killers are among hundreds of foreign criminals who have dropped off the Home Office’s radar.
Immigration authorities also lost track of overseas nationals convicted of kidnap, weapons possession and robbery.
They had been living in the community while facing removal from the UK. Figures obtained under Freedom of Information rules show 450 foreign national offenders (FNOs) absconded in two and a half years to the end of June.
Some were later located but the whereabouts of more than 200 were unknown up to two years after contact with officials ceased.
Conservative MP Tim Loughton, a member of the Commons Home Affairs Committee, described the findings as “horrifying”.
He said: “These are very
concerning figures and confirm a worrying trend that we are a soft touch when it comes to dealing with foreign national offenders.
“It is a mystery to me why we do not immediately deport these criminals, some of them highly dangerous.
“The fact that these people are escaping the watchful eye of the Home Office and are back on our streets is horrifying.
“Innocent people going about their daily lives could be at risk.”
If there is no immediate prospect of deportation or removal, convicted foreign nationals who have completed their sentence can be managed in the community.
They are required to report to officials and can be subject to bail conditions and electronic monitoring.
Figures show that 251 FNOs absconded in 2016, followed by 164 last year and 35 in the first six months of this year. As of the end of June, 223 male FNOs had not been found. Eleven females who absconded in 2016, plus unspecified numbers of five or fewer who absconded in 2017 and January to June this year, were also yet to be tracked down.
A Home Office spokeswoman said: “We always seek to deport those who commit crimes and whose conduct poses a serious threat to the basic fundamentals of society. “We never give up trying to locate absconders.
“We have removed more than 44,500 foreign national offenders since 2010, and this week, like every week, more than 100 foreign criminals will be removed from the UK.
“In 2017-18, we removed morethan2,000FNOs direct from prison under the Early Removal Scheme.”
A national team has traced more than 2,000 absconders since 2009, the department added.
Tim Loughton MP said innocent people could be at risk