Thousands of foreign criminals are being offered credit cards pre-loaded with more than £450 of taxpayers’ cash if they agree to return home. Rapists, muggers and burglars are being offered the astonishing perk as part of a package worth up to £5,000 designed to ‘bribe’ them to leave the UK. The credit cards are loaded with money which the convicts can spend as soon as they leave British soil. The remainder of the windfall is payable ‘in kind’ when they return home, and can include cash to set up a business.

Shadow Justice Secretary, Dominic Grieve said: ‘This is simply outrageous. It is bad enough that Gordon Brown lost control of our borders and has let thousands of foreign criminals into the country. ‘Now we learn that foreign prisoners are being given cash cards loaded with hundreds of pounds of taxpayers’ money. The lesson is clear: under Labour, crime pays and the taxpayer foots the bill.’

Details of the pre-loaded cashcard emerged in Parliamentary answers. It lays bare the Government’s desperation to hit a target set by Gordon Brown to remove thousand of foreign criminals every year. The prisoners receive £46 in cash to spend in Britain. They are then given the card containing £454 to spend overseas. It builds upon the existing policy of bribes. One in four of the foreign criminals who was deported last year only went home after being offered one of the special payments. The card can be used as a chip-and-pin – and could even be used to buy duty-free gifts on the way home.

Border and Immigration Minister Phil Woolas said: ‘Our Facilitated Returns Scheme saves the taxpayer money because foreign criminals are removed direct from jail or immigration detention, often before their sentence ends. ‘This means foreign lawbreakers cannot drag out the removal process for months with frivolous appeals which clog up the legal system. ‘Every day that we can get these individuals out of the country early saves taxpayers over £100 a night in detention costs.

Last year we removed a record 5,400 foreign national prisoners.’ The scheme began in October 2006 to encourage foreign criminals to return to their home country once they have passed the point in their sentence when they would be released if they were British. Assistance is provided up to a maximum of £5,000 for serving foreign criminals who go home shortly before their jail term is complete, and £3,000 for those who have finished their sentence.

The maximum grant has repeatedly been increased since it was introduced at £800 three years ago. Officials argue it is cheaper than trying to force the convicts to go home. There is no guarantee of success as foreign nationals who have lived in Britain for many years can claim to have established a ‘family life’ here. This can prevent their deportation on the grounds of human rights laws.

In 2008, about 1,350 foreign criminals took advantage of the programme. Those who received such a deal represent a quarter of the 5,400 foreign criminals that the Home Office boasted it had removed from Britain during the year.

Matthew Elliott, Chief Executive at the TaxPayers’ Alliance said: ‘It’s a disgrace that we bribe foreign criminals to go home at all, they should be deported immediately. ‘The fact that we also give them a hefty cash bonus to spend as they wish will rightly anger the lawabiding taxpayers who are footing the bill for this hare-brained scheme.’

SOURCE

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