03 December 2004
Ministers must develop an effective strategy to deal with international prisoners after a new study showed record numbers are detained in UK jails, an influential pressure group has warned.
The Prison Reform Trust claims that there are now 9,000 foreign nationals in prison in England and Wales — one in every eight people detained — many of whom are ill-treated and suffer racism.
The PRT says the government should encourage the wider adoption of a successful management strategy at London's Wandsworth Prison. It also called for the introduction of auditable standards in the sector.
Going the distance, a study by the PRT published on December 1, also notes that official figures underestimate the number of foreign national prisoners, 'as there are 1,200 people in custody whose nationality is not known'.
Hundreds are detained in jail after their sentences have expired because the government 'fails to… make arrangements for those who have been recommended for deportation', the PRT report claims.
The Home Office confirmed that at least 200 foreign prisoners who had completed their sentences were detained at the end of 2003. But a spokesman said: 'It is not a case of having made no arrangements to deport these individuals, but more a case of the deportation process taking longer than expected.'
Foreign inmates now make up half of the population at Verne prison in Dorset and Morton Hall women's prison in Lincolnshire. They also contribute a quarter of the population at a further 16 sites.
But the report found that foreign detainees' needs are often overlooked. Legal advice to foreign inmates is poor, while many suffer from mental health problems.
Author Hindpal Singh Bhui claimed: 'In some cases they are treated with disrespect and suffer racism.'