The Chief Inspector of the UK Border Agency has issued his most recent thematic report on the UK Border Agency’s management of foreign national prisoners.
Key points of interest to JCWI revolve around the poor level of decision making by UKBA both in relation to deportation and detention. The consequences arising from this are that people are subject to deportation action, or even detained, in circumstances in which they shouldn’t be. The report in particular notes:
1. the non-alignment of decision making by UKBA with judgments by the courts. In the the 12 months to February 2011 32% of appeals lodged by foreign national prisoners against deportation were successful. Whilst ‘the overwhelming majority’ of the cases were on human rights grounds ( the numbers are much exaggerated by some parts of the media. UKBA’s decisions were overturned in 425 cases in total (including on the basis of other grounds)
2. by January 2011, over 1,600 foreign national prisoners were detained under immigration powers at the end of their custodial sentence pending deportation, with the average length of detention increasing from 143 days in February 2010 to 190 days in January 2011. A staggering 27 % of FNPs were detained for longer than 1 year.
3. The sample study showed that whilst UKBA policy presumes the release of foreign national prisoners at the end of their sentence subject to assessments of both the risk they pose to the public, and the risk of absconding, FNPs had remained in detention in 97% of cases where they had completed their sentence and deportation was being pursued.
4. there was a startling disparity between the numbers of people released from detention by UKBA and the number released on bail by the courts. Between February 2010 and January 2011 UKBA released 109 foreign national prisoners from detention compared with 1,102 released on bail by the courts.
“We recommend that the UKBA:
- Reduces the number of decisions to deport that are overturned on appeal
- Ensures that FNPs are provided with the reasons why they are being deported at the time the decision is made.
- Develops clear timescales for obtaining travel documentation in individual cases to ensure that deportation action can be taken more quickly where appropriate
- Actively manages all cases where FNPs have yet to be deported, and considers regularly whether deportation can be enforced or whether a person is entitled to remain in the UK
- Ensures that each individual decision to detain or release an FNP atb the end of their sentence takes full accopunt of the risk of reoffending, in line with published policy and any assessments produced by the National Offender Management Service.
- Changes the level of authorisation required to release FNPs at the end of their sentence in line with its policy that presumes release.
- Analyses whether the frequency and nature of contact between case owners and FNPs can improve the quality and timeliness of decisions.
- Ensures that files contain data relevant only to the subject of that file; and ensures the timely destruction of data where a person has been acquitted of an offence.”