Only four dangerous foreign offenders have been deported to Jamaica after more than 30 successfully lodged last minute legal appeals against their removal.
Nearly 40 foreign criminals had been earmarked for deportation to Jamaica after serving a combined total of 127 years in jail for offences including murder, kidnapping, child sex crimes, firearms offences, GBH, ABH and drug dealing.
But 33 successfully challenged their deportation on human rights grounds, arguing that their removal breached their rights to a family life and that they had been victims of trafficking or modern slavery.
Of those, 13 were made within 24 hours of their deportation from Birmingham Airport in the early hours of Wednesday morning, leaving Home Office lawyers and judges with little time to assess the validity of the claims.
Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, said: “I make no apology for removing foreign national offenders who have committed crimes which will have had a devastating impact on their victims.
“The people removed to Jamaica are convicted criminals who have been found guilty of a range of serious offences. They have no place in our society.
“It is absolutely galling that, yet again, last-minute legal claims have stopped the removal of 33 people, including those guilty of abhorrent crimes such as murder and child sexual offences.
“This is why our Nationality and Borders Bill will deliver changes to the law to make it easier to remove foreign criminals and prevent them from gaming the broken system.”
The four foreign national offenders on board had been convicted of a number of serious crimes including violence and drug offences. Their sentences totalled 16 years and three months.
Dozens removed from deportation flights
It follows similar legal challenges in August, when just seven foreign offenders were deported to Jamaica from 50 on the original manifest. Last December, the 50 who were due to be removed were whittled down to four.
None of those deported were British citizens, British nationals or members of the Windrush generation.
A Home Office source said: “Despite having numerous opportunities to raise legal challenges at any stage of the immigration process, asylum claims, appeals and judicial reviews are all commonly raised in the last few days before removal by people awaiting return.
“These generally lead to release from detention – despite the fact the vast majority do not receive a positive outcome for the applicant when the claim is reviewed.”
Activists blocked the road outside Brook House, an immigration detention centre near Gatwick, in an attempt to prevent the deportations on Tuesday.
Campaigners have accused the Government of breaching a deal signed with Jamaica last year to stop deporting criminals who came to the UK aged under 12.
However, Home Office sources said the deal only related to a specific deportation flight last December. They said the UK Borders Act 2007, passed by the last Labour government, allowed the deportation of individuals who came to the UK as minors.
The Home Office has said there has been a huge increase in the number of late claims by individuals due for deportation over the past year.
There has been a particular increase in the use of the Modern Slavery Act by victims who use provisions under the law to claim they have been, or risk becoming, victims of modern slavery if they are deported.
The number of foreign national offenders who have been referred as potential victims of modern slavery has more than quadrupled since 2018 — from 19 per month to 85 per month this year.