Hundreds of Albanian prisoners to be sent home to serve remainder of jail sentence
Hundreds of Albanian prisoners are to be returned to their home country in exchange for UK support to help modernise Albania’s prison system.
Under the ground-breaking arrangement agreed by the UK and Albanian governments, 200 Albanian nationals in prisons in England and Wales serving sentences of four years or more will be sent back to see out the remainder of their terms while helping to modernise prisons in Albania.
Justice Secretary Alex Chalk said the public rightly expects that foreign criminals should serve their sentences overseas and not at the expense of the British taxpayer.
The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) says it currently costs nearly £40,000 a year to house each prisoner in England and Wales.
Aa at March 31 this year, there were 1,393 Albanian foreign national offenders in prisons across England and Wales.
The total cost of the new deal for the MoJ is expected to be in the region of £8 million over two years. That equates to £32 per prisoner per day, compared with £109 a day to house them in prisons here. Home Office funding of around £4.4 million will also support the arrangement.
Mr Chalk said: “I am grateful to my Albanian counterpart, HE Mr Ulsi Manja, for his efforts to shape our growing partnership on justice issues.
“The public expects that foreign criminals should serve their sentences overseas – not in our prisons at the expense of the taxpayer.
“This deal will speed up the removal of these offenders and give victims confidence that serious criminals will continue to face justice and spend the remainder of their sentence behind bars.
“Collaboration with our international partners is an essential part of making this possible.”
Through the agreement, the Government will provide support modernising and expanding the Albanian prison system, to make sure they have the capacity to hold these prisoners. These improvements will also speed up future transfers, it said.
The deal builds on an earlier agreement and means that offenders must spend at least the same amount of time in custody as they were sentenced to by a judge in the UK. They are also barred from returning to the UK.
The Government says it will also free-up prison capacity in England and Wales by speeding up the removal of foreign offenders.
Between April 27, 2021 and April 27, 2023, the Government repatriated 112 sentenced foreign offenders under Prisoner Transfer Agreements.
“Today’s deal will double the number removed annually,” the Government said.
Ulsi Manja, Albanian Minister of Justice, said: “This new arrangement demonstrates the strong partnership between the UK and Albanian governments.
“Two years after the agreement for the transfer of prisoners from the UK to Albania was ratified, we have concluded a technical arrangement that will benefit both countries.
“At its core, every Albanian convict in the UK shall be given the opportunity to serve the remaining sentence in Albania, near their families, while we also increase our efforts to ensure the modernisation of the Albanian penitentiary system.”
In the past three years, 10,000 foreign offenders from around the world have been deported from the UK to their home country. The majority have been deported via other schemes, such as the Early Removal Scheme, which allows offenders to be deported before the conclusion of their prison sentences. The Prisoner Transfer Agreement means prisoners still serving long sentences can be removed and serve the remainder abroad.