Lawyers succeeded in stopping criminals including rapists and killers from being deported to Jamaica because 23 serious crooks submitted last-minute appeals – including human rights claims – which led to them avoiding removal.
Only 13 criminals from an original list of 57 were on board a Home Office charter plane which took off from Stansted Airport in Essex earlier this week.
The 23 serious criminals who avoided having to leave included someone convicted of murder in 2003 after shooting a man six times who was taken off the plane after a last-minute appeal. Others who failed to be removed included two rapists, two convicted of attempted murder and others convicted of supplying Class A drugs and possessing firearms.
The 23 criminals had been sentenced to a combined 156 years in jail.
Here’s some points about this situation to bear in mind.
- The people that were on the list to be removed committed awful crimes which have a devastating impact on victims and their families.
- In a separate horrendous case we saw earlier this year, a Sri Lankan who stabbed someone 21 times was allowed to stay here because a court said sending him back home would breach his human rights
- We know from a recent Henry Jackson Society report that 50 foreign-born terrorists including the Reading attacker convicted of triple murder avoided deportation on release from jail (see media report).
- This is a shameful situation. Only last year the Government pledged in its election manifesto to that if people abuse our hospitality, they will be removed as quickly as possible. Ministers also said they would maximise removal of foreign national offenders in the Queen’s Speech.
- They knows very well that polling shows massive public support for the removal of foreign ex-offenders (e.g. YouGov, Spring 2020)
- Yet removals of FNOs have fallen by 1,500 since 2016, and there are 10,000 non-UK offenders subject to deportation living amongst the public – over double the number of 4,000 in 2012
- Absconding is also a major problem – we know that 1 in 6 living in the community do so.
- Yet there are far too many obstacles to removal, and this includes the ability of claimants to misuse human rights provisions, including the Modern Slavery Act and asylum law in order to obstruct proper enforcement.
- This is partly due to lawyers who submit late and spurious claims – indeed, a judge pointed in 2018 to misconduct among immigration lawyers were starting court hearings simply to thwart operation of the law.
- It hasn’t been helped by the actions of some in the judiciary who, for example in 2017, blocked previous government efforts to ensure that endless appeals do not get in the way of deporting criminals.
- The government is right to look at tightening up the misuse of the European Convention on Human Rights (e.g. Article 3 on prohibiting torture) and of asylum appeals in order to get a grip on this. However, we hear a lot of tough talk and not nearly enough action.
- It is also worrying that, instead of preventing abuse of such provisions by enacting our own British Bill of Rights, the government has now said we will be bound into the ECHR after Brexit. One lawyer notes that Strasbourg judges have engrafted a number of asylum-type rights onto the ECHR which have caused particular problems in expelling terror suspects from UK territory (see media report).
- The government must also reverse the shocking decline in immigration enforcement which has helped to create this situation. In short it must preventing more criminals from entering the UK in the first place through better border security (e.g. illegal Channel crossings which have hit record levels allow people to come into the UK who have destroyed their documents so we have no real idea who they are). It must also maximise removals and boost measures to protect against absconding (i.e. detain many more people who frankly should not be living amongst the public instead of simply releasing people on bail). Finally it should vastly increase the resources available for, and staff involved in, enforcement activity. Strong political leadership is vital now in order to deal with this crazy situation.
- The protection of the public must come first.
Read our longer brief on this topic.