Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

MURDERERS AND RAPISTS LET LOOSE BY MISTAKE; 1,000 Foreign Convicts Have Escaped Deportation

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

MURDERERS AND RAPISTS LET LOOSE BY MISTAKE; 1,000 Foreign Convicts Have Escaped Deportation

Article excerpt

Byline: MARTIN BENTHAM

SHOCKING Home Office blunders have allowed foreigners convicted of murder and rape to stay in Britain, the Home Secretary admitted today.

They are among more than 1,000 criminals who should have been deported at the end of their sentence. Instead they were freed into the community.

Charles Clarke said there had been an "unacceptable failure".

Among those released were five killers, nine rapists, five paedophiles, 204 people convicted of drugs offences and 34 convicted of indecent assault or other sexual offences.

Nearly a quarter were also failed asylum seekers.

Mr Clarke admitted that the public would find the errors baffling and unacceptable. "I think it is a shocking state of affairs. We take it extremely seriously in every respect."

He said he took responsibility for the failure, adding: "The concern, possibly anger that people will feel is entirely understandable."

Asked if he would resign, Mr Clarke said: "I don't think it is a resignation matter. I think it is a matter faced by politicians as to whether one should be candid or not but I don't intend to resign."

A recent case of a judge ordering a deportation is one of the men convicted last month of the murder of MaryAnn Leneghan who was kidnapped and tortured.

Eighteen-year-old Kosovan Indrit Krasniqi has been served with deportation orders which should be carried out on his release from jail. He came to the UK aged 13 illegally but was granted leave to remain until his 18th birthday because he was a minor. But by the time of the murder, this leave had expired.

Mr Clarke said that the problem had arisen because of inadequate liaison between the Immigration and Nationality Directory, which is responsible for removing foreigners no longer entitled to stay in Britain, and the Prison Service.

He added that the rapid growth in the number of foreign nationals held in Britain's prisons, which has risen from 4,259 in 1996 to the current total of 10,265, had overwhelmed the system and prevented-proper checks being carried out on the status of those who were due to be released. …

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