Nigerian criminals will be sent home to jails in deportation push

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Prison guard
Prison guard

Nigerian criminals are to be sent home to serve their sentences in a boost to deportations, Priti Patel has announced.

The Home Secretary has signed a deal with the West African country that will enable the Government to fast track the deportation of criminals to the country.

Under new laws that came into effect this week, the Home Office will also be able to deport Nigerian criminals up to a year before the end of their sentences. They previously could not be removed until they had completed their jail terms.

The agreement is one of four signed with countries in the past year to speed up deportations amid concerns at the increasing number of foreign criminals freed into the community in the UK.

The Telegraph revealed on Thursday deportations of convicted foreign rapists, murderers and robbers have fallen to their lowest numbers on record after a rise in human rights challenges.

Home Office figures show the number of Category A foreign criminals and highest harm immigration offenders deported in the last year dropped by 13 per cent to 956.

That is the lowest it has been since the Home Office began compiling figures in 2013, when the number stood at 2,205. At the same time the number of foreign criminals released from prison reached a record high of more than 11,000.

Deal also tackles migration

The deal with Nigeria will see the countries do more together to support legal migration, tackle illegal migration and speed up the removal of foreign criminals.

Thirteen Nigerian foreign nationals with no right to be in the UK were removed on Thursday on a chartered flight. Eight Ghanaian criminals were also returned to their homeland on the same plane.

It follows similar deals with Serbia, India and Albania, which accounts for more than a tenth of the 12,000 foreign criminals currently held in British jails. There are estimated to be about 400 Nigerian offenders in UK prisons.

They are different to the agreement signed with Rwanda, where migrants who enter the UK illegally are sent on a one way ticket to the central African state where they can claim asylum.

The deal with Nigeria comes on top of a prisoner transfer agreement signed with the west African country under David Cameron, which will help underpin the removal of offenders serving sentences in UK jails.

Britain has, however, still to renegotiate returns agreements with EU countries such as France, Belgium and Germany following Brexit.

Deportations have been hampered by legal challenges by human rights lawyers claiming removal breaches criminals’ rights to a family life and by travel restrictions during the Covid pandemic.

Justice Secretary Dominic Raab’s Bill of Rights aims to “cut right back” the number of appeals against deportation by foreign criminals claiming breaches of their family life.