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News Archives: Index

October 7, 2010: Probation Set For Industrial Action

October 5, 2010: Turning Prisoners Into Taxpayers

October 4, 2010: Murder Changes Now In Force

September 20, 2010: Probation Programmes Face Cuts

August 24, 2010: Victorian Poor Law Records Online

August 10, 2010: Justice Job Cuts

July 28, 2010: Prison Violence Growing

July 22, 2010: Police Numbers: Latest Figures

July 22, 2010: New Jurisdiction Rules

July 16, 2010: CCJS On Prison And Probation Spending Under Labour

July 15, 2010: Latest Statistics On Violent And Sexual Crime

July 15, 2010: Latest National Crime Figures

July 15, 2010: New Chief Prisons Inspector

July 14, 2010: Hard Times Ahead For Prisons: Anne Owers

July 14, 2010: Prison Does Not Work: Ken Clarke

July 13, 2010: Criminal Justice Reform: Sentencing and Rehabilitation

July 13, 2010: Criminal Justice Reform Priorities

July 12, 2010: What Price Public Protection, Asks Probation Chief Inspector

July 12, 2010: NOMS has failed, says Napo

July 10, 2010: IPCC To Investigate Death of Raoul Moat

July 9, 2010: Women In Prison: New Report

July 9, 2009: Unjust Deserts: Imprisonment for Public Protection

July 8, 2010: Police Search Powers Change

July 7, 2010: Make 'Legal High' Illegal, Says ACMD

July 2, 2010: Failing Children In Prison

July 2, 2010: Police Buried Under a Blizzard of Guidance: HMIC

July 1, 2010: Freedom To Change The Law?

June 30, 2010: A New Outlook On Penal Reform?

June 30, 2010: Revolving Door Of Offending Must Stop, Says Clarke

June 30, 2010: Ken Clarke: Speech on Criminal Justice Reform

June 29, 2010: No More Police Targets

June 26, 2010: Family Intervention Projects Questioned

June 25, 2010: Cutting Criminal Justice

June 24, 2010: Napo on Sex Offenders Report

June 23, 2010: Closing Courts: The Cuts Begin

June 23, 2010: Strategy To Tackle Gangs

June 15, 2010: Courts and Mentally Disordered Offenders

June 8, 2010: Working With Muslims in Prison

June 1, 2010: Your Chance To Nominate a QC

December 2, 2004: Foreign National Prisoners Reach Record High

There are a record 9,000 foreign national prisoners in jails in England and Wales, one in eight of the overall prison population. This follows an almost threefold increase in numbers over the past decade, according to a report published yesterday by the Prison Reform Trust. There has been a 152 per cent increase in foreign national prisoners in the last ten years compared to a 55 per cent increase in British nationals.

The report, Going The Distance - Developing Effective Policy and Practice with Foreign National Prisoners is authored by Hindpal Singh Bhui, who has extensive practice experience of working with foreign national prisoners.

The report highlights a number of areas where foreign national's needs have been neglected. It notes that the official figures may well underestimate the actual number of foreign national prisoners as there are 1,200 people in custody whose nationality is not known - the Prison Service lacks a complete, accurate picture of the number of foreign national prisoners. For many prisoners their nationality has not been recorded or is incorrectly recorded.

The overall figure may well underestimate the actual foreign national prisoner population by between 10 and 20 per cent. At the end of January 2004 1,200 people in prison were recorded as being of 'unknown nationality'. Foreign national prisoners come from 168 countries, but over half are from just six countries (Jamaica, Irish Republic, Nigeria, Pakistan, Turkey and India). A quarter are Jamaicans, by far, the largest single group.

On 31st January 2004 there were 8,937 foreign national prisoners (defined as anyone without a UK passport), one in eight (12 per cent) of the current total prison population of just under 75,000. One in five of the 4,633 women in prison are foreign nationals. On 30th September 2004 the overall number of foreign national prisoners had increased slightly to 9,010.

The majority of foreign national prisoners (47%) have committed drug offences - nearly half of sentenced men (43%) and more than three quarters of sentenced women (79%) compared to just over a tenth (13%) of British sentenced men and nearly a third (29%) of British sentenced women. The rise in the foreign national prison population is linked to the increase in the number of offenders convicted of drugs offences over the past decade.

The report says the needs of foreign national prisoners are being overlooked and they are not being given the attention and support they require. It says that in some cases they are treated with disrespect and experience racism. Last year eight foreign national prisoners committed suicide, out of a total of 94 suicides. In the past five years, 35, have taken their own lives.

The report notes that there are now two prisons, the Verne in Dorset and the women's prison Morton Hall in Lincolnshire, where foreign national prisoners make up half or more of the population. In sixteen prisons they make up a quarter or more of the prison population.

Drawing on published evidence and original research in seven prisons, as well as the author's extensive first-hand experience, the report highlights a number of areas where foreign national's needs have been neglected:

  • A lack of information - foreign national prisoners experience particular problems because of being poorly informed about the legal system and prison rules and procedures. They struggle to access accurate legal and immigration advice during their sentence.
  • Immigration related problems - Many foreign nationals remain in jail having completed their sentence because there is a failure by the authorities to monitor and then make arrangements for those who have been recommended for deportation.
  • Language barriers - There has been a failure to provide adequate translation and interpretation facilities which means prisoners miss out on basic provisions, such as showers and association because they have not understood staff instructions or basic questions.
  • Isolation and mental health concerns - Foreign national prisoners experience unnecessary difficulties trying to maintain family contact, especially fulfilling their roles as parents. Separation from family in an alien environment can mean that their mental health needs are often greater than for other prisoners.
  • Racism and disrespect - Foreign national prisoners say that racism and a lack of respect and understanding from prison staff is not uncommon.
  • Preparation for release - There is a lack of proper procedures in place to prepare foreign national prisoners for their release and there are insufficient resettlement programmes specifically for foreign national prisoners.

Based on the implementation of a successful foreign national strategy originally developed in HMP Wandsworth, the report puts forward proposals for the Prison Service to promote effective local and national policy and practice with foreign national prisoners. It concludes that despite pockets of good practice there is an absence of strategic direction and support for foreign national prisoners. The report recommends the development of auditable standards and the formulation of a distinct Prison Service policy. It welcomes the introduction of foreign national co-ordinators in prisons and calls for more ring-fenced time and support for this group of staff. It presses for foreign national prisoners to be given support and training so that they can help one another.