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Convicted child rapists, drug dealers and other violent criminals were among seven people on a deportation flight to Jamaica this morning – though 112 had originally been expected before lawyers intervened.
Home Office minister Tom Pursglove explained the individuals deported from Stansted to Jamaica this morning had a combined total of 58 convictions for 127 offences.
He said: ‘The offences committed by the individuals on this flight include rape of a minor, sexual assault against children, firearms offences, dealing and importing controlled drugs and other violent crime, such as actual bodily harm.
‘Between them they had a combined total of 58 convictions for 127 offences.
‘However many more criminals could have left the UK today.
‘What we have seen over the last 24 hours is more last-minute claims facilitated by specialist immigration law firms, as well as representations from MPs to stop this flight from leaving.’
He was asked by Conservative MP William Wragg to tell the House of Commons how many ‘dangerous foreign national offenders’ were due to deported this morning and how many actually left.
Mr Pursglove replied: ‘I can confirm that the manifest originally had 112 individuals on it, in the end only seven left our country on that flight.’
Just seven out of a planned 112 people were deported to Jamaica this morning. The others had their deportations cancelled after legal actions were launched on their behalf
More than 10,000 foreign national offenders have been removed from the UK since the start of 2019
The others had their deportations cancelled after legal actions were launched on their behalf.
More than 10,000 foreign national offenders have been removed from the UK since the start of 2019, Mr Pursglove said.
Making a statement on foreign national offender removal flights, he told MPs: ‘Despite the challenges of Covid we stepped up the removal of criminals who have no right to be here. Since January 2019, over 10,000 foreign national offenders have been removed from the UK.
‘In the last month alone, flights have left to Albania, Romania, Poland and Lithuania and now also this morning to Jamaica and I expect that, that flight will land whilst I’m on my feet.’
He argued: ‘But it is Labour MPs that now howl time and time again, imploring us to halt the removal of dangerous foreign criminals from our streets, with letters, questions to Parliament and campaigns on Twitter.
‘We’ve even seen members of the shadow cabinet defending criminals with no consideration for their victims or loved ones. Too often opposition MPs are ignoring the law-abiding majority and by extension standing on the side of criminals, including paedophiles, murderers and rapists.’
Labour shadow Home Office minister Stephen Kinnock criticised Mr Pursglove’s ‘petulant rant’ and Government ‘incompetence’ in deporting foreign criminals.
Mr Kinnock said: ‘The Home Office has a responsibility to make sure that rules are fairly enforced, but ministers are failing to do so, and they are blaming everyone else for their failings.
‘The Home Office must deport dangerous foreign criminals who have no right to be in our country and who should be returned to the country of their citizenship,’ he said, adding ‘but the Home Office also has a responsibility to get its deportation decisions right.’
Mr Kinnock went on: ‘It is deeply troubling that a number of expert reports over recent years have pointed to how Home Office failures have resulted in fewer foreign criminals being deported than should be the case.’
Conservative MP William Wragg asked how many ‘ dangerous foreign national offenders’ were due to deported this morning and how many actually left. Home Office minister Tom Pursglove replied: ‘I can confirm that the manifest originally had 112 individuals on it, in the end only seven left our country on that flight’
He added: ‘The level of sheer incompetence is not only a threat to our security, it ultimately erodes the confidence of the British public and foreign nationals alike, because the system fails to fulfil those basic crucial principles of being firm, fair and well managed.’
‘Rather than coming to the despatch box to engage in a frankly rather childish and petulant rant based on the blame game and finger pointing, the minister should instead be coming to this chamber to set out what the Government is actually going to do to fix this broken system,’ he said.
Responding to Labour, Mr Pursglove reiterated that the pandemic had an impact on ‘businesses as usual in the returns and deportations space’.
He added: ‘The vast majority of removals that we see from our country are to EEA (European Economic Area) countries.’
He said: ‘Often the benches opposite talk tough on serious violence but then when they have the opportunity they optionally want to let out those who have committed serious violence on our streets, entirely optionally, when there are options available whereby they can be removed from our country.
‘The fact is that the opposition had the opportunity to change things for the better, who oh no, as always with Labour, they carp from the sidelines but they never have a plan.’