Britain could penalise countries that do not readmit deported criminals

Visa applications could be delayed under Priti Patel’s proposal

Priti Patel, Britain’s Home Secretary, has demanded that countries step up their efforts to take back citizens who have been convicted of crimes. PA

The UK’s interior minister has threatened to penalise countries that refuse to readmit criminals and failed asylum seekers who are repatriated from Britain.

Priti Patel said that under proposed changes to the Nationality and Borders Bill, which may be passed this year, people applying from such countries could be forced to wait longer to have visa applications processed.

This will include the ability to suspend visas, impose a £190 ($257) surcharge on applications to visit Britain or to lengthen the time it takes for visas to be processed.

She said The Gambia could be the first nation to be affected, having accepted only four criminal returnees in the past 12 months.

Sierra Leone, Eritrea, Cambodia and Vietnam will also face sanctions in response to their records on accepting deportees.

The hardline home secretary has been angered by foreign prisoners remaining inside British jails at significant cost to the taxpayer.

“Countries around the globe must work with us to take back their own nationals if they abuse our hospitality by committing crimes,” she told The Sun newspaper on Sunday.

“However, some countries do not co-operate on returns and so we will impose visa penalties on countries who refuse to take criminals back.

“We rightly take back British citizens who commit crimes abroad and other countries do the same.”

Overseas criminals convicted in British courts need to be taken back by their home nations, Britain's home secretary has insisted. PA

Official figures show the UK has 10,882 foreign offenders who have been released from jail but not returned to their home countries. Ten years ago, the figure was 4,000.

More than 6,000 failed asylum-seekers receive state welfare payments but the Home Office has struggled to deport them owing to reluctance by their home nations to readmit them.

Britain may also waive some immigration restrictions on Indian citizens.

The move is reportedly being considered by the International Trade Secretary, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, who will host trade talks with India this month.

She is understood to be ready to make an offer to New Delhi that would give Indian citizens status similar to that of Australians, who have the right to live and work in Britain for three years.

The visas, which cost about £1,400, could be reduced in price to entice Indians to sign up to the deal.

Neither the US nor the EU has a trade agreement with India, whose GDP stands at more than $2 trillion.

Updated: January 2nd 2022, 2:59 PM