Foreign prisoners ‘released from hospitals’

The Home Office faces more foreign prisoner allegations today as claims emerged that offenders were released from secure hospitals without its knowledge.

Up to 500 foreign prisoners with mental health problems were not considered for deportation before being released, The Sun has claimed.

Freed inmates from three hospitals in Berkshire, Nottinghamshire and Merseyside are at the centre of the controversy, which has led to further criticism from shadow home secretary David Davis, who described the matter as one of “serious risk to the public”.

“[Home secretary] John Reid should have told us all and notified every chief of police in the country as soon as it became clear an error had been made,” he said.

“This is a desperately serious problem for a Home Office already in crisis.”

Mr Davis pointed out that as the criminals had been deemed to be mentally ill, the degree of risk would be exacerbated.

In response to the claims, Mr Reid has ordered a full investigation into the number of prisoners who have been released, and over what period of time.

A spokesman referred journalists back to a written statement made by Mr Reid to parliament earlier this week, when he touched upon the issue.

“Historically there have never been systematic arrangements in place for collecting information on the nationality of mentally disordered offenders, referring them to the immigration and nationality directorate (IND) and considering them for deportation,” the statement read.

It added that dealing with this group was “hugely difficult” but said that measures had already been put in place for officials to “construct arrangements for considering deportation where appropriate for people in this group, taking account of their very specific circumstances”.