Nearly 6,000 foreign national criminals who are eligible for deportation from Britain have been released to live in the community, new figures have revealed.
Official Home Office data disclosed how an average of five foreign offenders a day were freed from jail or bailed from immigration detention in the final three months of last year.
Numbers have soared by nearly 900 in a year, with just 4,903 living in the community at the end of 2014 compared with 5,789 at the end of last year – a jump of 18 per cent.
In 2012 the figure was less than 4,000.
The figures, reported for the first time today, emerged in a report by the Commons’ home affairs select committee, and showed 1,800 offenders had been living freely in Britain for more than five years.
“MPs are right to highlight an utterly shocking failure by the Home Office.”
Keith Vaz, chairman of the all-party committee, said: “The Prime Minister promised to make the speedy removal of foreign national offenders a priority but these figures show the Home Office has failed to do so.
“The public will be alarmed that 1,800 offenders are still here after five years.
“This demonstrates either incompetence, inefficiency or both.”
He added: “Given a significant number of these offenders are from the EU, it is absurd that we cannot persuade our so called European partners to take responsibility for their own citizens.”
Peter Cuthbertson, of the Centre for Crime Prevention think-tank, said the figures exposed a “risk to public safety”.
“MPs are right to highlight an utterly shocking failure by the Home Office,” he said.
“There are enough British criminals released onto our streets as it is. Why top them up with foreign criminals who have no right to be here?
“This risk to public safety should be dealt with urgently.”
In the first three months of last year 343 foreign offenders eligible for deportation were released into the community, with 389 the following quarter.
From July to September the figure was 429, with a further 416 freed in the final three months of 2015.
David Davies, the Conservative MP for Monmouth, said: “It’s very disappointing that thousands of foreign nationals who have broken the law, gone to prison and should be deported are back in the community, no doubt claiming benefits and free housing.
We need to send a tough message that anyone who wants to come and break the laws of the UK should abide by our rules, or else. This is bound to be related to the Human Rights Act and is another good reason to leave the European Union.