Hundreds of Nigerian prisoners to be sent home to serve out sentence under deal to ease pressure on UK jails

HMMMM…

  • A total of 534 Nigerian nationals are  serving sentences in British prisons
  • Britain has promised £1million to improve  Nigeria’s crumbling jails
  • Minister Jeremy Wright says prisoner  transfer deal is close to being sealed
  • David Cameron promised to slash the number  of foreign inmates

By  Matt Chorley, Mailonline Political Editor

 

Hundreds of Nigerian criminals will be sent  home to serve out prison sentences under a deal set to be struck by ministers  within weeks.

Talks are continuing into reaching a  compulsory prisoner transfer agreement, which could see more than half of the  500 criminals from Nigeria currently in UK jails repatriated.

Prisons minister Jeremy Wright told  MailOnline how ‘more foreign prisoners must serve their sentences in their own  countries’.

Deportation: Ministers want to send hundreds of Nigerian criminals to serve out their sentence at home to cut the cost for British taxpayersDeportation: Ministers want to send hundreds of Nigerian  criminals to serve out their sentence at home to cut the cost for British  taxpayers

Ministers have been ordered to step up  efforts to end the scandal of more than one in eight prisoners being from  overseas.

David Cameron vowed to end the practice of  the British taxpayer picking up the bill for criminals with no business in the  UK.

The Prime Minister said in 2010 that he would  ’personally intervene’ to send more foreign criminals home.

Britain has even made clear it would pay to  build new prisons in countries like Nigeria to speed up the process of sending  foreign criminals home. Up to £1million has been promised to upgrade Nigerian  jails, including a new wing at Kirikiri Prison in Lagos.

But to date little progress has been made.  When the coalition was formed there were 11,135 foreign prisoners in UK jails,  and this figure has fallen by just three per cent since to 10,786.

Top ten foreign nationalities in prison

Each felon costs an average of around £40,000  a year to keep inside.

Last week it was announced that notorious  Liberian warlord Charles Taylor is to serve his 50-year sentence for war crimes  in the UK.

A prisoner-transfer agreement was struck with  Albania earlier this year to ‘free up space in prisons here and reduce the cost  to the British taxpayer’.

It was the first major bilateral prisoner  transfer agreement with a country outside the European Union.

There were around 250 Albanians in UK jails  in June this year.

But securing an agreement with Nigeria would  be seen as a much more significant breakthrough.

Latest figures show there were 534 Nigerian  nationals in British jails, 485 men and 49 women.

Nigerians account for one in 20 of all  foreign prisoners, putting the country fifth in the league table of nations  whose citizens have been jailed in the UK.

Justice Minister Mr Wright said: ‘I am clear  that more foreign prisoners must serve their sentences in their own countries.

‘That is why we are currently working with  the Nigerian Government on a compulsory prisoner transfer agreement to increase  the number of prisoners who are transferred.

‘Legislation allowing Nigeria to enter such  an arrangement was passed earlier this year by the Nigerian Parliament. We are  now working with them on the text of a final agreement.’

Overflowing jails abroad have made it  increasingly difficult to deport prisoners to their own country.

It is argued that by paying for building new  jails or making existing ones more ‘comfortable’ so they approach British  standards, will be repatriated.

Deal: David Cameron, who promised to help Nigeria improves its jails, hopes to strike a deal with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan Deal: David Cameron, who promised to help Nigeria  improves its jails, hopes to strike a deal with Nigerian President Goodluck  Jonathan

In April Mr Cameron said: ‘When people are  sent to prison in the UK we should do everything we can to make sure that if  they’re foreign nationals, they are sent back to their country to serve their  sentence in a foreign prison.

‘And I’m taking action in Government to say  look we have strong relationships with all of the countries where these people  come from.

‘Many are coming from Jamaica, many from  Nigeria, many from other countries in Asia.

‘We should be using all of the influence we  have to sign prisoner transfer agreements with those countries. Even if  necessary frankly helping them to build prisons in their own country so we can  send the prisoners home.’

Culled from .dailymail.co.uk

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