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Border warning on foreign criminals

Criminals are slipping into Britain where they have gone on to murder because of "inadequate" information passed on to border police, a scathing report has warned.

MPs say British police are being hampered in identifying and arresting foreign criminals because they are not being given up-to-date information.

Officers fail to carry out criminal record checks on a third of foreigners arrested in the UK - where many have struck again.

The Home Office IT system is also not fit for purpose, making it harder for officials to keep track of foreign criminals, the Home Affairs Committee has warned.

Committee chairman Labour MP Keith Vaz described the findings as "astonishing" and called for an overhaul of the system to ensure criminals and terrorists do not slip through the net.

Mr Vaz said: "It is astonishing that even though we have these databases and the capacity to check every single person who is a foreign national and arrested in this country, it is only used in 67% of cases.

"That means that one third of foreign nationals arrested in the UK do not have their criminal records checked.

"This is a lost opportunity to deal with people with a criminal past."

He said there are "many dangerous people" in Britain, but the authorities don't know who is at risk because of "the failure to do even basic and routine checks".

The report, entitled The Work Of The Immigration Directorates Calais, said the killing of schoolgirl Alice Gross, who was murdered by Latvian Arnis Zalkalns last August, highlighted the danger of border failings.

Described as a "threat to society", Zalkalns, a 41-year-old labourer, served seven years in jail in Latvia for murdering his wife and burying her in a shallow grave, but moved to the UK in 2007 where he killed again.

In another case, university professor Paul Kohler was left with shocking injuries after being savagely beaten by a group of Polish thugs at his home in Wimbledon, south-west London, last year.

The gang were career criminals with a long history of violent attacks in their native country.

The report warned: "The Home Office, the police and Border Force are clearly reliant on access to timely information to enable them to intervene when criminals attempt to enter the UK.

"The murder of Alice Gross and the violence inflicted on Professor Paul Kohler show that such reliance is inadequate."

It said the 15-year-old Warning Index system used by UK border staff to identify terrorists and criminals is "considerably overdue to be renewed".

The report added: "We support the Government's efforts to improve the data it receives from other countries on people with criminal records who the UK may consider undesirable.

"However, we are unconvinced that the Home Office's IT systems are fit for purpose given the ever-increasing volume of data."

Mr Vaz said the Warning Index system "needs to be revamped so it properly represents what it is - an index which comprises extremists and terrorists coming in to our country.

"If it is old you are going to get people missed off and that is a difficult and dangerous situation to be in.

"We need a complete overhaul of our entry systems to make sure the Warning Index is modern and fit for purpose."

Some 760 foreign criminals, including killers and rapists, are on the run in Britain, the report warned.

Some may have been at large for more than five years, it added.

A Home Office spokesman said: "Foreign criminals and terrorists have no place in the UK and this Government is using every resource available to root them out and protect the British public.

"Police criminal records checks on EU nationals have gone up over 700% under this Government, with just over 60,000 requests made to European partners in 2014.

"We already have an outstanding system of public protection that is rightly held up as an example across the world but we are not complacent.

"We are leading the way in Europe to improve the exchange of information in cases involving dangerous criminals."

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