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Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 May 2006, 03:29 GMT 04:29 UK
Reid vowing to make Britain safer
Home Secretary John Reid

Home Secretary John Reid has pledged to "do whatever it takes to make the public feel safe" following a string of controversies at the Home Office.

He told the Daily Mirror he had set a deadline of 100 days to fix the system under which 1,019 foreign prisoners were not deported after their release.

Mr Reid said he would "stop at nothing" to sort out the current system.

On Tuesday, Mr Reid damned his own department's immigration operation as being "not fit for purpose".

He said it had "inadequate" leadership and management systems.

Other failings showed the Home Office could be "dysfunctional" and "wholesale transformation" was "probably" needed.

REID'S EIGHT PRIORITY AREAS:
Ensure individuals in contact with criminal justice, immigration and asylum systems have a unique personal number
Make it an obligation for suspects and criminals to declare their nationality
Instruct all agencies to refer other categories of foreign national cases to immigration directorate
Order officials to audit-trail all policy criteria governing which individuals should be considered for deportation
All decisions on deportation to be made according to the most robust interpretation of international obligation requirements
Clear procedures demanded for dealing with foreign national prisoners held in Scotland and Northern Ireland
Officials to make arrangements for considering deportation of mentally disordered offenders
Enhance arrangements to facilitate the return of prisoners earlier in their sentence

Speaking to Wednesday's Mirror about the changes needed, he said: "It can't be done in five minutes or five weeks. But I'll stop at nothing to make sure we get this right.

"I want to make the public feel safe again and I won't rest until the law and the justice system works for law-abiding people, not criminals."

Mr Reid added he wanted new Immigration Minister Liam Byrne to deliver a masterplan in 100 days to prevent a repeat of the mistakes that allowed the foreign criminals to go free.

However, the Conservatives say they are not convinced Mr Reid can sort the problems out.

Tory opposite number David Davis said: "It will be alarming for the public to hear that, 10 months after the government were made aware of this problem, there might be a whole new group of foreign criminals on our streets, putting them at risk."

Mr Reid told the Commons home affairs committee on Tuesday that jobs could still go after the 1,019 foreign prisoners were released without deportation being considered.

He said he had had to deal with "a tidal wave of events" since becoming home secretary a fortnight ago.

While his department had been trying to cope with the problems of mass migration, "our system is not fit for purpose", he said.

"It's inadequate in terms of its scope, it's inadequate in terms of its information technology, leadership, management systems and processes," he said.




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