Foreign prisoners facing transfer
Thousands of foreign prisoners will be sent back to serve their sentences in their own countries under Government plans.
With more than 11,000 foreign inmates in a prison population of about 85,000, as many as possible should be transferred to serve their sentences in their own country, the Ministry of Justice said.
The move is part of plans to cut the prison population by 3,000 by 2014-15, but could be hampered by prisoner transfer agreements which require the consent of the prisoner and by human rights objections from inmates. Prime Minister David Cameron will spearhead the initiative, the Daily Mail reported.
It comes after reports that Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke wants to close six jails in England and Wales as his ministry seeks to cut its budget by almost a quarter.
The Ministry of Justice said it is "right that those who enter the UK and abuse our hospitality should face the full weight of the law, and where necessary go to prison".
But "foreign national offenders who have no right to remain in the UK will be removed from the UK at the earliest opportunity", a spokesman said.
"The Government believes that wherever possible foreign national prisoners should serve their sentences in their own country."
Foreign prisoners are currently removed under prisoner transfer agreements with other countries, an early removal scheme which allows them to be released up to 270 days early if they agree to be deported immediately, or after their sentences have ended.
A total of 5,530 foreign national prisoners were deported or removed from the UK last year, but just 41 of these were under prisoner transfer agreements.
An EU prisoner transfer agreement, which comes into force next year, will not require the consent of the prisoner and could enable the return of many more people to EU countries.