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Cash incentive for foreign UK prisoners

Foreign prisoners serving terms in British jails are to be paid up to 2,500 pounds, if they agree to serve part of their sentence in their homeland.

india Updated: Oct 10, 2006 16:01 IST

Under a new pilot scheme announced by the British home secretary, foreign prisoners serving terms in various British jails are to be paid up to 2,500 pounds, if they agree to serve part of their sentence in their homeland.

This is part of Home Secretary John Reid's emergency measures to tackle the rising prison population, according to reports.

Criminals from countries outside the European Economic Area (EEA) - which comprises the 25 EU nations plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein will not be given the cash but will be eligible for an amount between 500 pounds and 2,500 pounds of British taxpayers' support with education, accommodation, medical care, training or help in starting a business, according to The Times newspaper.

A Home office spokesman said the incentives were a "practical and cost effective solution", designed to "free up places in British prisons and reduce the costs of managing these individuals who have no right to stay here".

"It costs 37,000 pounds a year to keep someone in prison. It's a lot cheaper than keeping them in prison," the spokesman further added.

There are nearly 11,000 foreign prisoners in Britain's jails, double the number five years ago, according to the Daily Telegraph.

Reid denied the emergency measures were an admission of a grave planning failure in the prison service - despite repeated warnings from officials of a looming jail capacity crisis.

The opposition parties were quick to criticise the 'incentive-to-leave-Britain' plan.

"By definition, these are not people you can trust to be honest," he said. "Do we have the border controls to make this work? The answer is no. How will we stop these people ripping off the taxpayer and coming back?" Tory Shadow Home Secretary David Davis told the Daily Telegraph.

The Liberal Democrats accused Reid of offering a 'bribe' to foreign prisoners.

Others slammed the government, saying there would be nothing to stop foreign prisoners from collecting their grants and later returning to Britain.

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