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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 February 2007, 12:46 GMT
Foreign prisoners still at large
Cell door
Foreign prisoners should be considered for deportation
Twenty eight of the 189 serious foreign offenders wrongly freed from prison without deportation being considered are still at large, it has emerged.

Immigration directorate director Lin Homer also said "one further serious offence" had been committed by one of the freed foreigners since December.

All 1013 foreign ex-prisoners had been considered for deportation, with 163 having now been deported, she said.

Officials want to deport a futher 512, while 31 cases were rejected by courts.

In 275 cases officials had decided not to seek deportation, with the remainder still in jail or on remand, Ms Homer said in a statement.

The prisoner deportation row led to Charles Clarke's sacking as home secretary in May last year, with John Reid taking over.

Legal 'frustrations'

Of the 28 offenders on the run, one is from the "most serious" category - convicted of either murder, manslaughter, rape and child sex offences - and 27 are considered "more serious", convicted of other violent offences and sex attacks.

Officials said a large number of individuals had "frustrated" the deportation process using last-minute legal barriers.

Ms Homer also disclosed 55,000 had been paid, since 1 April 2006, in compensation to nine foreign prisoners held in custody beyond their sentence while awaiting deportation.

She said she hoped any risk of repeating similar mistakes had been minimised.

Minimising risk

"Typically, compensation has been paid out in these cases due to technical deficiencies around serving the detainee with appropriate legal documents.

"We have reviewed our processes and I am confident we are minimising the risks of such failures reoccurring."

Appearing before the Commons Home Affairs committee, Home Office minister Joan Ryan said that she believed almost all the most serious cases of crimes committed by Britons in Europe have now been recorded onto the Police National Computer.

It emerged in early January that the criminal details, including cases of Britons who had committed rape and murder abroad, had not been entered on the police computer used to checked when people apply to work with vulnerable groups, such as children.

Criminal backlog

Ms Ryan said the home secretary had asked the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) to clear the backlog within three months.

Extra resources were being provided to deal with the problem and a wide ranging review looking at data collection and data exchange is underway.

She admitted there were issues to be resolved over the exchange of information on the release date of Britons convicted abroad.

Ms Ryan also admitted that safeguards for workers from outside the EU who come to Britain to work in schools or hospitals are not as strong as for those from EU countries.

She said: "It would be wrong to give the impression that this is risk-free."

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