Leeds and Exeter councils work with Border Agency to send prisoners home
Pilots to allow councils to deport ex-offenders
Council housing departments will help to deport repeat offenders from Eastern Europe in a bid to crack down on homelessness as part of two government-backed projects.
Exeter and Leeds councils start pilots this month that will see housing staff work with local prisons and the UK Border Agency to aggregate sentences of European foreign nationals being released from jail to enable them to be sent home.
Immigration authorities can deport European citizens if they have received a prison sentence of more than two years. But under the pilots, the councils will deport individuals if they have a number of short sentences amounting to two years. The individuals will be offered drug and alcohol treatment and free travel home.
Central and Eastern Europeans are the fastest-growing group of rough sleepers in England.
If the pilots are successful they could be rolled out across the UK.
A snap survey of offenders without a fixed address coming into Exeter prison in a week earlier this year showed that of 19 people, 17 were from central or Eastern Europe.
Both pilot areas have received £100,000 from the Communities and Local Government department to bolster outreach teams. The areas were chosen because of existing links with the UKBA.
The pilots follow work by homelessness charity Thames Reach and health and social care charity CRI, which have collaborated with embassies to send Eastern European rough sleepers home.
Helen Keats, national rough sleeping advisor for the CLG, said: ‘There are day centres full of Eastern Europeans eating free food because they can’t support themselves and we can’t just ignore it. This would save money for the criminal justice system and tackle rough sleeping.’