Deportation will soon be "the norm" for foreign prisoners, the Government has said.

In a written statement Liam Byrne, the immigration minister, said current legislation did not go far enough to ensure that criminal activity led to deportation.

He said: "We need to change the law to make deportation the norm for foreign national prisoners, to remove some in-country rights of appeal, to streamline procedures and otherwise to remove barriers to deportation and removal, including existing exemptions for some Commonwealth nationals."

Convicted foreign prisoners, he added, "should face deportation, and deportation should happen as early as possible in their sentence".

Of more than 1,000 foreign prisoners released without proper consideration of deportation since 1999 only 46 have left the country.

Though the Home Office is not specific, it is suspected that the majority, if not all, of those have been "administratively removed" because their permission to stay had expired.

Forcible deportation, on the grounds that the presence of an individual is not conducive to the public good, has traditionally been difficult to achieve because of court challenges and human rights objections.

From today, immigration rules have been changed to confirm the presumption that all non-European Economic Area nationals sentenced to 12 months' imprisonment or more and all EEA nationals sentenced to 24 months or more should be considered for deportation.

The Government will also seek an "urgent amendment" to parliamentary legislation to remove the need for prisoner consent to serve sentences in their own countries.
 

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