Government to announce tougher sentences for foreign criminals who re-enter UK in Queen's Speech

Posted On: 
13th October 2019

Foreign criminals who breach their deportation orders by returning to the UK will be locked up for longer under plans to be announced in the Queen's Speech.

The Queen and Prince Charles at the last state opening of Parliament in 2017.
Credit: 
PA Images

Home Secretary Priti Patel said Britain would no longer be a "soft touch" for overseas offenders under the get-tough policy.

A total of 22 bills are expected to be announced to MPs and peers by Her Majesty as she performs the state opening of Parliament for the first time since 2017.

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The list of domestic priorities will include plans to invest more in the NHS, tackle violent crime, lock up the most serious criminals for longer and deal with the cost of living.

But, with a general election expected within weeks and no government majority in the Commons, Labour has accused Boris Johnson of using the Queen for a "cynical stunt".

Around 400 foreign criminals a year return to the UK, and end up serving an average of 10 weeks behind bars if they are caught.

Ms Patel said under the Government plans, prison sentences will be dramatically increased in a bid to deter them from returning to these shores.

She said: "We have been a soft touch on foreign criminals for too long. The sentence for breaching a deportation order is far too low at the moment and many criminals conclude that it’s worth trying to get back in the country when all you get is a slap on the wrist.

"Deterring foreign criminals from re-entering the country and putting those that do behind bars for longer will make our country safer."

The Queen's Speech will confirm the introduction of legislation which will increase the minimum amount of time violent and serious sexual offenders have to serve behind bars before being considered for parole.

At the moment, they can be released after serving half their sentence, but that will now be increased to three-quarters.

Meanwhile, a Domestic Abuse Bill will be introduced to help give victims greater protection. Theresa May has tried to get the legislation onto the statute book, but failed to do so by the time she left Downing Street.

And murderers who withhold information about the whereabouts of their victims could spend more times behind bars under a new 'Helen's Law'.

The move follows a long-running campaign by Marie McCourt, whose daughter Helen was murdered by Ian Simms in 1988, and her local MP, Conor McGinn.

The Government is also expected to announce a new law which will force voters to produce photographic ID when they turn up at polling stations.

Campaigners have said the move will depress turnout in less-advantaged areas, where people are less likely to have identification documents such as a passport or driving licence.

Responding to the announcement on foreign criminals, Shadhow Home Secretary Diane Abbott said: “It is hypocritical for the Tories to set out these plans when they were the ones who imposed cuts and let crime soar in the first place. Everything was cut, from schools, to the NHS, to the police, to mental health services. They all had terrible consequences."

And she added: “This Queen’s Speech is farcical. It is just an uncosted wish list which the government has no intention and no means to deliver, and nothing more than a pre-election party political broadcast."