UK to repatriate Nigerian Prisoners

Nigerian prisoners in British jails to be sent home Hundreds of Nigerian prisoners are to be sent home to serve out their sentences in Nigeria to ease the pressure on British jails. Up to 400 prisoners are being repatriated when the British government reached a deal with Nigeria after months of negotiating. The move paves the way for hundreds more criminals to be deported. Gordon Brown has vowed that thousands of prisoners from Nigeria, Vietnam and China will be sent home as “expeditiously as possible”.

An agreement has already been signed with Jamaica, which tops the list of foreign nationals in jails in England and Wales, although only a limited number of the 1,400 Jamaicans in British prisons will be returned home.

The scale of the problem facing the Government was disclosed shortly after Mr Brown took over in 2007. Figures were released showing that only 136 foreign national prisoners were repatriated in 2005, while 9,610 foreign nationals started jail terms in England and Wales.

It also emerged that prisoners from two jails reserved exclusively for foreign nationals were released early to ease prison overcrowding. Some 21 foreign nationals held in Bullwood Hall and Canterbury jails were released 18 days early under the Ministry of Justice’s emergency early release scheme.

Deals on repatriation are being sought with Nigeria, Vietnam and China which account for a further 1,700 inmates. Until recently prisoners had to consent to repatriation, but ministers have scrapped the rule and hope to increase substantially the number being sent home to serve their jail terms.

Jamaica has 1,400 foreign prisoners in British cells; Nigeria has more than 1,000, while Vietnam and China have 400 and 300 prisoners in British jails.

However, before any deals can be concluded, ministers need assurances that sentences imposed by the British courts will be enforced fully in the home states. It is also likely to be difficult to reach a deal with China, which already refuses to take back failed asylum-seekers and illegal immigrants.