Foreign prisoners – forgotten prisoners?

Foreign prisoners – forgotten prisoners?

Written by: Harmit Athwal

The Prison Reform Trust has recently published Forgotten Prisoners – the plight of foreign national prisoners in England and Wales, which examines the increasing numbers of foreign nationals being held in British prisons, the problems that they encounter, and the inconsistency of their treatment.

Key facts and figures include:

  • 12 per cent of the prison population is made up of foreign nationals (anyone without a UK passport).
  • A quarter of those being held coming from Jamaica.
  • 47 per cent of those being held have committed drugs offences.
  • As of 30 April 2003, 126 foreign national children under the age of 18 were being held in prison.

Foreign national prisoners miss out on basic provisions such as showering and association because they have difficulty understanding instructions/regulations. And the report also highlights the mental health needs of foreign national prisoners who suffer from ‘separation from family in an alien environment’. Around four hundred people remain detained under the Immigration Act, after serving criminal sentences, because of delays in arranging deportation or obtaining travel documents.

The report concludes that policy and practice in relation to foreign national prisoners is ‘inconsistent and sub-standard’. The Prison Reform Trust recommends that the Prison Service implement a separate strategy for foreign national prisoners and that prisons with high numbers of foreign nationals should establish a separate foreign prisoners’ committee.

Related links

Prison Reform Trust

The Forgotten Prisoners - the plight of foreign national prisoners in England and Wales can be downloaded for free from Prison Reform Trust website.

The Institute of Race Relations is precluded from expressing a corporate view: any opinions expressed are therefore those of the authors.

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