Home Office 'loses' 900 foreign criminals in deportation fiasco.
Clarke's mea culpa.
A HUNT begins today for more than 900 foreign criminals, including murderers and rapists, who have been released from jail without being con-sidered for deportation.
The Times learnt last night that the Home Office cannot even trace the three foreign murderers and nine rapists released in the deportation fiasco.
The disclosure increases the pressure on Charles Clarke as all released murderers are supposed to be under the supervision of the Probation Service for life and the rapists should be on the sex offenders register.
The Home Secretary admitted yesterday that he could not say exactly where all the 916 freed prisoners were or if any of them had reoffended since release.
The Times has learnt that although the police have now been ordered to find the missing criminals, neither Scotland Yard nor the Association of Chief Police Officers has been provided with a list of the freed prisoners.
The Home Secretary?s s admissions will damage the Government?s record on law and order and immigration but Mr Clarke insisted that he would not resign over the 1,023 foreign national offenders who were freed without being considered for deportation.
?We take it extremely, extremely seriously in every respect,? said Mr Clarke. ?The concern, possibly anger, that people will feel, I think, is entirely understandable.?
Mr Clarke said that the blunder occurred as the number of foreign prisoners increased from 4,300 in 1996 to more than 10,000 this year.
?We simply didn?t make the proper arrangements for identifying and considering removal in line with the growth of numbers that were there,? he said.
?That is a failure of the Home Office and its agencies, for which I take responsibility.?
Brian Caton, the general secretary of the Prison Officers Association, said: ?If we get it wrong in prison and then people are not properly cared for when they come out in the community, the people will get robbed, people will get raped and, unfortunately, people will get murdered.?
Officials in the Home Office refused to identify any foreign prisoners even though publicly identifying them could help the police to track them down.
A total of 1,023 overseas criminals were released from prison in England and Wales between 1999 and last month without any consideration being given to whether they should be deported.
Among the total were three murderers, nine rapists and five paedophiles. Another seven had served time for other sex offences, fifty-seven for violent offences and two for manslaughter.
There were also 41 burglars, 20 drug smugglers, 54 convicted of assault and 27 of indecent assault.
The largest number, 175, are from Jamaica, 59 are from Nigeria, 58 Iraq, 50 the Irish Republic, and Wales between 1999 and last month without any consideration being given to whether they should be deported.
Among the total were three murderers, nine rapists and five paedophiles. Another seven had served time for other sex offences, fifty-seven for violent offences and two for manslaughter. The largest number, 175, are from Jamaica, 59 are from Nigeria, 58 Iraq, 50 the Irish Republic, 48 Somalia, 45 Pakistan and 42 from Algeria.
Judges had recommended that 160 of them should be considered for deportation on their release from prison but no action was taken.
Mr Clarke only found out about the fiasco because of persistent questioning by an MP on the Commons Public Accounts Committee. The Home Secretary admitted that the department had supplied in- accurate information to the committee about the extent of the blunder. Mr Clarke said he could not promise that all 1,023 would be traced. More than 870 were serving at least 12 months, and 13 were serving more than ten years.
David Davis, the Shadow Home Secretary, said: ?How many more times must we put up with the Home Office?s abject failure to protect the public, and how many more times will they seek to duck responsibility for the issue?? David Blunkett, who along with Jack Straw was Home Secretary when some of the prisoners were released, called for action against those responsible. ?My view is that heads should roll,? he said.