HC Deb 02 April 1996 vol 275 cc113-7W
Mr. Corbett

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if he will now review the effectiveness of the transfer of the convicted prisoners treaty between the United Kingdom and Spain; [24387]

(2) how many British citizens convicted abroad, in countries with whom the United Kingdom has treaties on the transfer of convicted prisoners, have been returned to the United Kingdom to complete their sentences in the last five years, listed by country; [24391]

(3) with which countries Her Majesty's Government have agreed arrangements for the transfer of convicted prisoners to complete their sentences in their country of residence and, by country, the date upon which such arrangements came into effect; [24393]

(4) how many foreign nationals, convicted in courts in England and Wales, have been returned to their country of residence to complete their sentences under the terms of treaties on the transfer of convicted prisoners, in the last five years, broken down by country. [24392]

Miss Widdecombe

Her Majesty's Government are a party to two international agreements allowing for the repatriation of prisoners to serve their sentences in their own countries. The main international agreement is the Council of Europe convention on the transfer of sentenced persons, which was instituted in 1983. At present, there are some 31 other countries that conduct repatriation under this scheme.

There is also a Commonwealth scheme for the transfer of convicted offenders to which five other countries are signatories. The United Kingdom also has bilateral agreements with Egypt and Thailand. The countries party to these agreements, and the dates on which they came into force for each country, are listed in the table.

Repatriation between the United Kingdom and Spain is governed by the Council of Europe convention on the transfer of sentenced persons and its procedures. There are no plans to review these arrangements.

Council of Europe convention on the transfer of sentenced persons
State Commencement
Austria 1 January 1987
Bahamas 1 March 1992
Belgium 1 December 1990
Bulgaria 1 October 1994
Canada 1 September 1985
Croatia 1 May 1995
Cyprus 1 August 1986
Czech Republic 1 March 1993
Denmark 1 May 1987
Finland 1 May 1987
France 1 July 1985
Germany 1 February 1992
Greece 1 April 1988
Hungary 1 November 1993
Iceland 1 December 1993
Ireland 1 November 1995
Italy 1 October 1989
Luxembourg 1 February 1988
Malta 1 July 1991
Netherlands 1 January 1988
Norway 1 April 1993
Poland 1 March 1995
Portugal 1 October 1993
Slovak Republic 1 January 1993
Slovenia 1 January 1994
Spain 1 July 1985
Sweden 1 July 1985
Switzerland 1 May 1988
Trinidad and Tobago 1 July 1994
Turkey 1 January 1988
Ukraine 1 January 1996
USA 1 July 1985
Commonwealth scheme for the transfer of convicted offenders
State Commencement
Canada September 1993
Malawi August 1992
Nigeria August 1992
Trinidad and Tobago July 1993
Zimbabwe December 1991
Bi-lateral agreements with the United Kingdom
State Commencement
Egypt 9 November 1995
Thailand June 2 1991
The number of prisoners repatriated abroad and the number repatriated to this country in the last five years are given in the following tables.
Prisoners sentenced in the United Kingdom and transferred abroad
Total number of transfers over the past five years: 61
1991 1992 1993 1994 1995
Austria 1
Belgium 1 5 5
Canada 2 6
Cyprus 1
France 1
Gibraltar 2
Holland 4 8 1 4 1
Italy 3 1
Luxembourg 1
Spain 1 2
Sweden 1
United States 10
Total 17 18 9 5 12
Prisoners sentenced abroad, transferred into the United Kingdom Total number1 of transfers over the past five years: 53
1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995
Belgium 1
Cyprus 1 1
Republic 1
Denmark 1 1 2
Finland 1 1 1
France 1 2
Germany 2 1
Holland 2 1 1
Spain 1 3
Sweden 1 3 1
Switzerland 1
Thailand 2 1 2
Trinidad and Tobago 4
United States 2 5 6
Total 0 6 9 11 17 10
1Although the majority of those repatriated here are British citizens, the United Kingdom will accept non-citizens who have close family ties in this country and meet immigration requirements. Figures held centrally refer only to the total number of repatriations and do not distinguish between British citizens and non-citizens.

Dr. Hendron

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many prisoners currently serving prison sentences in Great Britain have requested a transfer to prisons in Northern Ireland or the Irish Republic; [23543]

(2) what is his policy on the transfer of Irish prisoners from gaols in Great Britain to prisons in Northern Ireland. [23544]

Miss Widdecombe

The policy governing the transfer of prisoners between United Kingdom jurisdictions, including those between England and Wales and Northern Ireland, was set out in a statement on 23 November 1992,Official Report, column 476.

Any request by a prisoner in England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to be transferred to one of the other jurisdictions either permanently, to serve the rest of his or her sentence, or temporarily to foster family ties, will normally be approved, provided that (1) the prisoner would have at least six months left to serve in the receiving jurisdiction before his or her date of release at the time of making the request; (2) the prisoner was ordinarily resident in the receiving jurisdiction prior to the current sentence; or his or her close family currently reside there and there are reasonable grounds for believing that it is the prisoner's firm intention to take up residence there on release or to receive visits; and (3) both Departments concerned are reasonably satisfied that the prisoner will not, if transferred, disrupt or attempt to disrupt any prison establishment, or otherwise pose an unacceptable risk to security. A request that does not meet these conditions may nevertheless be granted where there are strong compassionate or other compelling grounds for transfer.

A permanent transfer may, however, be refused if it is considered that the prisoner's crimes were so serious as to make it inappropriate that he or she should benefit from a substantial reduction in time left to serve, if that would be a consequence of transfer.

Requests will be considered on an individual basis. To facilitate the orderly movement of small numbers of prisoners between jurisdictions, the timing of each transfer will be subject to operational and security considerations in the sentencing and receiving jurisdictions.

Temporary transfer, where granted, may be for a period of up to 12 months, with requests for extensions of this period considered on a similar basis. Temporarily transferred prisoners will be expected to comply fully with such regime requirements as the receiving Secretary of State may stipulate. Failure to agree to do so either in making the request or after transfer will normally justify refusal of the request or the immediate return of the prisoner to the sentencing jurisdiction.

As of 27 March, 18 requests for transfer to Northern Ireland and 70 requests for repatriation to the Republic of Ireland made by prisoners in England and Wales were under consideration. In addition, three requests for transfer to Northern Ireland made by prisoners in Scotland were under consideration. No requests for repatriation to the Republic of Ireland have been made by prisoners in Scotland.

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