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EXCLUSIVE: EU citizens with serious convictions should be deported after Brexit, says think tank

FLIGHT: The Home Officer charters flights to deport some foreign criminals

EU citizens with convictions for serious crimes living in the UK should be deported after Brexit, a think tank has claimed.

Campaign group the Centre for Crime Prevention called for post-Brexit deportations of serious offenders after it emerged hundreds of convicted murderers, rapists and paedophiles from eastern Europe have been found living in the UK.

Free movement from the EU has allowed serious criminals to enter the UK virtually unchecked according to the centre and MPs.

The serious offenders were uncovered by the Criminal Records Office (ACRO) using sophisticated inter-continental computer checks, and have been released under the Freedom of Information Act.

EXTRADITED: Mantas Balcius was wanted in Lithuania for human trafficking

In the last three years officials discovered 700 people living in the UK who had murder or manslaughter convictions received in foreign countries, mainly from eastern Europe.

There were 741 people over here with rape convictions and 362 with child sex crime records.

The criminal checks have exposed how easy it is for migrants to enter and live in the UK from the European Union despite having horrendous criminal records in their home country.

Romania topped the league of shame with 510 people convicted of murder, manslaughter, rape or child sex offences back home found over here between 2015 to 2017.

Next was Poland with 301 followed by Lithuania with 98.

The Centre for Crime Prevention, set up in 2013, calls for "research-based zero tolerance policing and tougher sentencing."

David Spencer, research director for the centre, said: “These shocking figures show that Brexit cannot come quick enough for the safety of the British public.

“Only once we have regained control of our borders and the power to say who can and cannot enter the UK is restored will we be able to prevent serious criminals from coming to Britain to commit their crimes.

“Once Brexit happens it is to be hoped that the flow of felons will stop immediately, proper criminal checks will be carried out before anyone is allowed into the country, and those European criminals that are already here will be swiftly deported.”

The true figures could be even higher as they only came to light when checks were done on suspects arrested on suspicion of committing new crimes in the UK.

Figures from UK police databases show that every day a total of 400 checks are done on crime suspects arrested here to see if they have criminal convictions in their homeland.

Official checks by UK police forces on the criminal records of foreigners arrested on suspicion of committing crimes, or because they have been charged, has almost doubled from 76,388 three years ago to last year’s figure of 138,586.

'DISGRACE' Phillip Hollobone MP

Phillip Hollobone, Tory MP for Kettering said: "It is nothing short of a national disgrace that thousands of foreign convicted criminals are allowed freely to enter and live in the UK despite having horrendous criminal records in their own country.

"These include convicted murderers, rapists and child sex offenders.

"Many of these are from eastern Europe.

"These people should be being stopped at the border.

"Far from enhancing our domestic security, our membership of the EU and adherence to freedom of movement has made it even easier for these EU nationals to slip into our country undetected - they simply waltz through passport control."

ACRO has systems in place to exchange previous conviction information with other forces around the globe where agreements have been put in place.

A spokesman for ACRO said some of the rise in foreign offenders being identified was down to a rise in requests being made by UK forces as well as an increase in the number of countries linked into the system.

The revelation comes after an investigation last month, which looked at extradition requests to the UK from other countries seeking to return fugitives home, found several people wanted for or convicted of crimes including murder, child rape, human trafficking, drug smuggling and organised crime had moved to the UK with apparent impunity - largely from eastern Europe.

MOST WANTED: Florin Ghinea

Among scores of European fugitives facing extradition from the UK is Romanian Florin Ghinea, 44, who is listed as one of Europol’s most wanted men. He is accused of human trafficking, conspiracy to murder, blackmail and money laundering.

It has since merged that the percentage of EU fugitives, who may be hiding in the UK, who are actually arrested over here has plummeted from 47 per cent in 2009/10 to just 14 per cent in 2017/18.

Figures released by the National Crime Agency (NCA) for European Arrest Warrants (EAWs) to the UK show in 2009/10 there were just 3,870 EAWs issued with just over 1,829 people apprehended, but in 2017/18 there were 2,480 arrests out of 17,256 EAWs.

Mr Hollobone added: “Only 14 per cent of suspected fugitives on European Arrest Warrants were apprehended in 2017, and the percentage is going down each year, so the EAW is proving ineffective in catching those criminals we need to catch.”

An NCA spokesman said EAWs were issued to all Schengen countries and it did not mean the fugitive was necessarily hiding in the UK.

He said: "The UK receives a request every time an EAW is circulated on the Schengen Information System.

"One of the main reasons for the increase in requests is that the EAW standardises extradition requests across the EU making it easier to circulate requests to many members states at once.

"Since the introduction of the EAW, the UK has extradited more than 11,000 individuals to the EU."

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