Robert Jenrick on the removal of illegal Albanian migrants
The Government has announced that 200 Albanian nationals jailed in England and Wales will be sent home for the rest of their sentence – amid concerns that UK prisons are nearing capacity.
The arrangement will also see Britain provide support to Albania to help modernise its own prison system, according to the department.
It comes after justice minister Lord Bellamy KC told Parliament that jails are “quite tight” and at 99 per cent capacity.
Speaking to peers, he said the Government is concerned about the increasing prison population and how it is nearing its upper limit.
The MoJ said the new deal will “free up” jail space in England and Wales and double the number of offenders without UK citizenship removed annually.
Between April 27, 2021 and April 27, 2023, the Government repatriated 112 inmates under prisoner transfer agreements.
Justice Secretary Alex Chalk said: “I am grateful to my Albanian counterpart, Ulsi Manja, for his efforts to shape our growing partnership on justice issues.
“The public expects that foreign criminals should serve their sentences overseas – not in our prisons at the expense of the taxpayer.
“This deal will speed up the removal of these offenders and give victims confidence that serious criminals will continue to face justice and spend the remainder of their sentence behind bars.
“Collaboration with our international partners is an essential part of making this possible.”
Ulsi Manja, the Albanian justice minister, said: “This new arrangement demonstrates the strong partnership between the UK and Albanian governments.
“Two years after the agreement for the transfer of prisoners from the United Kingdom to Albania was ratified, we have concluded a technical arrangement that will benefit both countries.
“At its core, every Albanian convict in the United Kingdom shall be given the opportunity to serve the remaining sentence in Albania, near their families, while we also increase our efforts to ensure the modernisation of the Albanian penitentiary system.”
Relations between the two countries haven’t always been so solid in the past two years on the issue of migration.
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Earlier this month, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama has said the UK is experiencing a “nervous breakdown” over migrants crossing the English Channel, as he accused British MPs of blaming his government for the problem.
The Albanian leader said Britain was in a bad state and that it is in a “nervous breakdown” due to the influx of thousands of immigrants arriving in small boats from continental Europe to British ports. Speaking at the Economic Forum in Delphi, Greece, Rama said: “They are in such bad shape, poor Brits, that they have to criticise the Albanians to make themselves feel stronger.
“No problem. We have great respect for Britain and what Britain stands for, as well as for British history and culture, so we will tolerate it until they get over that situation.
“We used to think like this: The British talk badly about us, so what? It’s not our problem, it’s theirs.”
Last month, Rama criticised the “disgraceful” way Home Secretary Suella Braverman recently characterised migrants from his country as “Albanian criminals”.
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