Byline: Jack Doyle Home Affairs Correspondent
ONE foreign criminal is escaping deportation nearly every day by using human rights laws, shocking figures reveal.
UK Border Agency statistics showed 350 offenders, including a double murderer, were allowed to stay in the UK last year on human rights grounds instead of being sent home.
In many cases, dangerous offenders were granted the right to stay despite the courts accepting that they pose a risk to the public. Among those to have taken advantage of the Human Rights Act to stay here are killers, rapists, serial burglars and drug dealers.
Critics said the figures should prompt a further examination of how human rights laws are being used.
Tory MP James Clappison said: 'Deportation of foreign criminals was a sorry saga under the last Government.
'This shows there are still issues to be resolved and we need to look very carefully at the way in which human rights legislation is being implemented in the UK - not least because this seems to be allowing foreign criminals to remain in this country.'
In Opposition the Tories promised to scrap the Human Rights Act and replace it with a British Bill of Rights, but the pledge was abandoned by the coalition Government. Each individual case can cost taxpayers thousands in court costs and legal aid as criminals try everything to avoid returning to their homelands.
The foreign prisoners scandal erupted in 2005 when it emerged that more than 1,000 foreign inmates had been released without anyone even considering whether they could be kicked out of Britain.
In 2007, shortly after becoming Prime Minister, Gordon Brown told foreign nationals to 'play by the rules' or face the consequences. He added: 'If you commit a crime you will be deported from our country.'
Foreign criminals who are jailed for more than a year are automatically considered for deportation. But often the Home Office is powerless to act in the face of court and tribunal rulings. In most cases, lawyers argue that deportation would breach their clients' right to a private and family life because they have children, a family or relatives in the UK.
Others say they cannot be deported because they would be at risk of imprisonment, persecution or torture in their home countries.
Although individual cases of criminals using human rights laws to escape being sent home have come to light before, this is the first time the shocking scale of the problem has become public. Previous estimates had put the total number at around 50 per year. And despite publishing the figure of 350, Border Agency officials admitted they still did not know the exact number, because uncovering it would require an examination of …