Nearly 4,000 foreign murderers, rapists and other criminals are roaming the streets, free to commit new crimes.
The Government wants to deport them but admits that many cannot be kicked out because of their human rights.
A Parliamentary answer reveals that 3,980 foreign criminals who should have been sent back to their country of origin are ‘living in the community’.
Officials say thousands use the Human Rights Act, which guarantees the ‘right to family life’, or fears about violence in the countries they left as a way of dodging deportation.
Around 800 of the foreign criminals have been at large in Britain for more than five years.
Ministers admitted last year that a string of murders and sex attacks have been committed by foreign nationals who should already have been kicked out.
Foreign criminals on immigration bail have committed three murders, three kidnappings and 14 sexual offences, including rape.
Official figures show that there have also been arrests in relation to 27 other ‘violent crimes’ and 64 thefts.
He said: ‘There are 3,980 foreign nationals in the UK subject to deportation action living in the community. We continue to pursue removal in all these cases.
‘The principal barriers to removal are non-compliance on the part of individuals which means we have insufficient evidence of nationality and identity to obtain a travel document, ongoing legal challenges and the situations in countries of return.’
But critics say that is not enough to solve the problem. Tory MP Priti Patel, who asked the Parliamentary question that led to the publication of the figures, called for the abolition of the Human Rights Act.
She said: ‘Lax immigration and border controls inherited from the previous Labour government have left this mess and the current Government must take all steps necessary, including abolishing the Human Rights Act, to get these people removed from Britain.
‘The public deserve to have a robust immigration system in place to keep them safe instead of laws and rules designed to help foreigners remain in Britain when they should have no right to be here.
‘Hard-pressed taxpayers will be disgusted to learn that they are footing the legal fees and living costs associated with this number of foreigners overstaying their welcome.’
Sir Andrew Green, chairman of MigrationWatch UK, said: ‘This is an extraordinary number. Offenders and their lawyers are clearly playing the legal system.
‘The case for pulling out of the 60-year-old ECHR gets stronger by the day.The Government is trying to give better guidance to the courts but that is most unlikely to have the necessary impact.
'The only long-term solution is to pull out of the ECHR completely and write our own human rights law.’
David Cameron has set up a review into whether a British Bill of Rights could replace the Human Rights Act, but his Lib Dem partners will oppose any move to leave the ECHR.
Ministers say they are speeding up the deportation process.
The average number of days between a foreign national offender finishing his or her sentence and being removed has fallen from 131 days in 2008 to 74 in 2011.
A UK Border Agency spokesman said: ‘We are absolutely determined that any foreign national who fails to abide by our laws should face the consequences and in 2011 we deported more than 4,600 foreign criminals.'
- Illegal immigrants injured five staff during a riot at a detention centre. About 40 detainees were involved in the incident at Morton Hall immigration removal centre in Swinderby, Lincolnshire, on December 30. One detainee was taken to hospital. Up to 50 detainees took part in a protest on Christmas Day, in which no one was hurt.
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