latest update APRIL 10th 2008
APRIL 26th 2006
Bad luck on Charles Clarke that he should be the man sitting there when this blew up. There is probably no period in the last 50 years when more has been attempted by way of looking reality in the face in the Home Office, against much obstruction from opposition parties who have done nothing while in power to equip our country to deal with anything to do with detention or deportation of foreign nationals. It is not a simple problem. There are, have been and will be insoluble problems created by incompatible demands of laws passed by different bodies, on behalf of different interests, to deal with what each consider overriding rights and priorities. Insoluble that is by simple, automatic, systematic procedures. They are matters of judgment

It would be easy to say that as soon as a foreign national is admitted to prison a process should start to determine whether on release they should be deported or not. But it should be clear to most people that human rights and possible miscarriages of justice come into play here. It may well be that during the time of detention facts come to light about the prisoner and the crime that would influence the decision. There are also the rules against deportation which might sometimes be relevant and cannot be anticipated.

The immense overload of the prison service, the fact that the released prisoners have come inevitably to the end of their sentence and the practical impossibility of forcing all these cases through a legal process that would stand scrutiny by those who now criticise the failure so to do, brings us once again up against the truth:- the public expects near perfection of a state system that, if it were to be supplied, would require a level of finance and talent that the said wonderful British public is neither willing nor capable of supplying. We wish to live beyond our means without even being questioned about our liability to meet the bill or prepare the people required to supply these services. If government ministers should resign for not telling the public the hard truth, then all ministers of all governments.should resign now, as no British public of this generation, told the truth, would ever elect them.

The people now baying for Charles Clarke's head are the same who are asking any government to administer every service in the country, repeat every service, without an identity system - whether or not the side issue of whether we all have or carry cards in certain circumstances is decided. Without a modern ID system and cards for most people if not all it will be impossible to prove or disprove if anyone is a foreign national or not.

I suggest anyone calling for Charles Clarke to resign should say exactly or even approximately how they would have set up an acceptable process to deal with the increasing number of foreign nationals being released and which other legal processes they would have to abandon, people they would have had to train, buildings to build, buy or rent to have set up the means to do it. Prisoners who are not due for deportation are being released daily. It has been difficult enough to set up hostels to deal with British Nationals it seems. Nobody wants them built in their neighbourhood. The Home Office's intrinsic problems and paradoxes have never been addressed by previous governments. This government has done more than any other under far greater pressure than any other. Charles Clarke is a competent Home Secretary. The Home Office is barely able to control itself, let alone its functions. Resigning or 'being resigned' will not assist in rectifying the problem.

APRIL 28th
Today we hear from politicians and members of the public who apparently think it is fine to put these people on a boat or plane to anywhere elsewhere, but not to release them here. They would like life to be simple, like many years ago, when even British citizens could be sent to Australia. The fact is these people had finished their sentence and if they were to be an unacceptable risk, there would have to be a method to deal with it. But we all know there is no such method other than perpetual detention or the death penalty of ensuring nobody will re-offend. The Immigration and Nationality Department does not do its job because its job is actually impossible with the staff and resources it has and the national and international law which encircles their activity. To blame this on Charles Clarke, the man who has tried to get a grip,  is utterly ridiculous. His resignation will not help and is not needed.

A classic example of the ignorance of those who do not understand the problems was given by a woman in a discussion on BBC Radio 4 tonight who said: "Surely it's not too much to ask that when a prisoner is being released, someone pick up the phone and find out if they were recommended by the judge for deportation." This betrays such an ignorance of the logistics and basic mathematics of a bureaucratic and legal system covering all the variables, authorities and developments over a passage of time that the mind boggles. It might be possible to find out what the judge recommended, though not by 'picking up the phone' and finding someone with that at their fingertips. From that to establishing that the right thing to do was to put this individual on a plane to another country is a sequence that is unpredictable and a process of unknown outcome. For Charles Clarke to have been setting up a method to deal with this, would would have meant a revolution in relations between IND, Prison Service and Courts, at the same time as dealing with what he has been occupying him 24/7 already, would have been nice, but then why not try it standing up in a hammock?

So far all we know in detail of specific individuals concerned is one man who was in prison on a rape conviction was fighting to clear his name. He has been rearrested and put in Belmarsh because of this fracas. He was legitimately released and may well have been innocent in the first place. Tomorrow we can expect the usual outpouring in the press by people who have absolutely no idea of the real world that they write about, because that's all they can do. The next 10 years should sort some of these journalists and politicians out. If they think Charles Clarke should be sacked then they have no idea of what is coming.

MAY 1st
Now we hear that someone has been murdered by a released drug dealer. I am sure a great many more people are going to be murdered by released drug dealers over the years unless these are all executed or locked away for life, so that's not a reason for the Home Secretary to resign either. John Prescott is in quite a bit more difficulty, however, not because he had an affair with his secretary but because he may be accused of doing it at the tax-payers expense, not just in office time but actually in the office. This is an unfortunate mistake. Some people are accusing him of a bad attitude to women, but that doesn't stack up. His wife loves him, his secretary loved him and neither of them had anything to say against him till this blew up publicly. It is not in the public or national interest that he should resign, but since when did the press take those issues more seriously than stirring the pot.

MAY 8th
I have commented elsewhere on the removal of Charles Clarke in the cabinet re-shuffle. It was necessary only so that a new Home Secretary could concentrate on dealing with the problems rather than our irrelevant press and opposition parties. The problems are serious, and neither the opposition parties or the or the media have contributed to anything other than making them worse over the years. Nor, from the remarks coming from most commentators now, are they likely to, though some BBC radio presenters and others do seem to be getting their heads round it at last. The situation is as follows.

The last Tory Home Secretary told us confidently that 'Prison works'. I was pleased to able to have a live moment on BBC radio in the early nineties to assure him it did not, as instituted in this country, work; and that I looked forward to him experiencing it on the inside one day on a charge of criminal neglect. Fat chance of course, but the inevitable consequence of this neglect, combined with the inevitable progress of globalisation, has been to give rise to the present troubles.
We live in a free country, without a death penalty. We do not punish or imprison people for crimes we think they might commit unless we publicly classify them as too dangerous to be allowed their freedom after they have already committed a very serious offence. Those who are not given a life sentence without parole are therefore released at the end of their sentence. If the prison regime does not prepare the prisoner or society for this release, then reoffending is very likely to be more probable than was the original offence itself. If, dear reader, you understand the English language, you will appreciate that prison, as applied in the UK to a large number of people, is not only unlikely to 'work', to use the ridiculous phrase of the absurd Mr Howard; it is likely to make reoffending a near certainty in a significant number of cases.

So, until we have completely re-organised and refinanced the prison service and the way it prepares people for release and the country to receive them on release, we have to face up to the fact that we will be releasing potentially dangerous criminals into the community. If they are to be released but not free from control (in other words tracked 24/7 with a means of instant intervention standing by at whatever cost to re-arrest them), the cost, personnel and technology required would be insupportable. If they are free, they can be 'lost' to 'the system'. There will also be amongst them those who have no intention of re-offending. There will be some who are foreign nationals. There will be some who have family resident here, maybe dependents, wives, children. If any are to be deported, it has to be on a rational basis. If we do not condemn them to death here, it is not rational to send them to where they will be tortured or killed on arrival. If they have family and dependents, they must be officially separated or officially kept together. If we think they should not be allowed their freedom here because they are dangerous, this should be established well in advance and negotiated with their knowledge and with the any country to which their return is contemplated.

To put measures such as this in place requires the negotiation of at least bilateral agreements with all countries involved. Historically, human rights to this degree, while deemed desirable, were simply classified as impossible. A little over a century ago, a man could be hung for stealing a sheep in Hyde Park. That's why there were so few sheep stealers. No doubt some innocent people were hung - collateral damage was accepted. Today, even murderers and child abusers are not hung, mainly because we have had a fear of miscarriages of justice.  If we are to use temporary imprisonment as a substitute for permanent removal from society, then the end of the period and conditions of release are more important than the beginning and more important than the sentence itself.  Deportation is not the answer to anything except the presence of someone who has no right to be in the country at all in the first place and is a citizen of another country to whom we owe no duty of protection under the laws of asylum.

These are the matters the PM says we need to discuss and come to conclusions on. Instead all we get from opposition and media (with noble exceptions I have noted) is a load of time-wasting bollocks, exactly what has led over the years to the present situation.

MAY 10th
Today the news is broken of a British National who was released in 2004. The same scenario could apply to a foreign national

LONDON (Reuters) - A violent sex attacker who killed a woman in a "truly hideous crime" soon after being freed on licence from jail should never have been released, according to a damning report on Wednesday.

In the latest of a string of cases in which prisoners freed early or on parole have gone on to kill, Anthony Rice was let back into the community after 16 years in prison after being assessed as "low risk."

Nine months later he strangled and stabbed 40-year-old mother Naomi Bryant in her Winchester home.

In a report into the murder, Chief Inspector of Probation Andrew Bridges said Rice should never have been released in the first place and that, once out, there were "substantial deficiencies" in the way he was handled.

"The murder of Ms Bryant was a truly hideous crime," Bridges said. "Everyone involved owes it to victims and the public generally that lessons are learnt about how to manage offenders like Anthony Rice more effectively."

"Our conclusion about this case is that there were substantial deficiencies in the way Rice was supervised by Probation and its partners ... but in any case he was too dangerous to be released into the community in the first place."

Either we accept the fact that we live in a world that is not without danger, or we can lock up everyone who we think migh pose a risk. This particular man had not murdered anyone before and as the law stands will be let out again when he is in his seventies. It would be far kinder, if he was really assessable as too dangerous to be let out, to put him painlessly to death. However, the number of people who are murdered every year has up till now been reckoned as a percentage of the public and, if it does not go up and even goes down, has been considered a fact of life. Those who do not accept the facts of life and try to change them do not have a good record. Stalin, Mao, Hitler etc all tried to achieve perfection by dealing in a perfunctory manner with any individuals who were considered a threat to society before they had actually committed a crime.

MAY 17th 2006
Today there has been some baring of the facts at last. A senior Home Office official said they had absolutely no idea how many people were residing illegally in the UK. When David Cameron complained about this it was pointed out that there was no way of measuring it directly and that over the years all attempts to identify individuals had been frustrated by Tories and Liberals. On the foreign national criminals The PM got a bit testy and although his actual words were a bit more careful that they appear in the edited versions, he did imply that most foreign nationals who served a prison term would be deported no matter how dangerous this might be for them. In fact this cannot be the automatic presumption.  But what is true, as I pointed out in another part of this web site many months ago (a page on TREASON if I remember rightly), the UK has an extremely limited duty of care to any foreign national who does not support our constitution, culture or laws. We no longer deport our own criminal nationals as we used to, but there is no reason to strive to protect those from other countries who are dedicated to our political or social destruction.

Have a read of these:

The strange thing is that all this has been known for a very long time, even though the increase in numbers has escalated in the last few years, except, it appears, to members of parliament - who seem surprised, and those of the public who are not directly involved. The role of the media has been ambiguous, perhaps because they have actually realised the very great complexity of the problem (gosh - I can't belive I wrote that).

APRIL 10th 2008
And so it goes. Our judges have a wonderful time absolving themselves from all responsibility. All they have to do is find a loophole in the law and pass the buck to the politicians. The do the same with everything. A bigger bunch of hypocrites than most of the British Judiciary you would be pushed to find without going abroad, and even then....  But of course they are right: the law is the law. Let us hope that just as with some other instances, common sense will prevail till the law an be changed.

Preacher Abu Qatada wins appeal

Islamic preacher Abu Qatada has won an appeal against deportation from the UK which could lead to him being freed.

Qatada - in prison pending deportation to Jordan - has been dubbed "Osama bin Laden's right-hand man in Europe".

The Home Office says it will challenge the ruling, and in the meantime he will remain in prison.

The Court of Appeal said it was concerned that evidence allegedly obtained under torture may form part of a future trial in Jordan.

The Jordanian national has been fighting extradition to his home country where he has been convicted for terror attacks.

I believe that we will be able to secure his deportation to Jordan and we will push for it as soon as possible
Tony McNulty
Home Office minister

The appeal panel said the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) had misdirected itself in law over the issue of any evidence obtained by torture.

Responding to the decision, Home Office minister Tony McNulty said he believed the deportation would still go ahead.

"I am pleased that the courts dismissed all but one of Abu Qatada's reasons for appeal," he said.

"We are seeking to overturn that point, and I believe that we will be able to secure his deportation to Jordan and we will push for it as soon as possible. In the meantime, he remains behind bars."

Jordan is one of a number of countries with which the UK has signed a memorandum of understanding which ministers say will ensure that any deported terrorism suspects will not face torture or ill-treatment on return.

The UK signed memoranda with Jordan, Libya and Lebanon in 2005
Their purpose is to facilitate deportation of terror suspects between countries
The Foreign Office says they act as assurances from those countries that suspects sent back will not be tortured
Critics say the agreements are neither binding nor offer suspects any protection

Shadow Home Secretary David Davis criticised the government's approach, saying it should concentrate on prevention and prosecution as well as trying to deport individuals once in the UK.

He said: "They should answer our calls to establish a dedicated UK border police to secure our borders and prevent foreign terror suspects from entering the country in the first place."

Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne said the court was rightly concerned about the use of evidence gained under torture in Jordan, which would not be admissible in a British court.

He said Qatada should now be charged in the UK courts, or released.

Gareth Peirce, Qatada's solicitor, said she welcomed the court's decision but criticised the memorandum of understanding, saying it was "unenforceable" and carried "no possible sanction or redress if breached".

Human rights group Amnesty International called for Qatada to be "fairly tried - not shipped off to Jordan to be sentenced on the basis of evidence that was tortured out of someone".

Deportations scrapped

In a separate ruling on Wednesday, the three appeal judges also found in favour of two Libyan suspects, after the government appealed another decision by Siac.

Siac had ruled that the pair faced a risk of ill-treatment, including torture, if they were returned to Libya.

As a result of the appeal court ruling, deportation proceedings against 10 other Libyan nationals have effectively been abandoned.

A Home Office spokesman said the government would not appeal against the judgment in this case.

Abu Qatada became one of the UK's most wanted men in December 2001 when he went on the run on the eve of government moves to introduce new anti-terror laws allowing suspects to be detained without charge or trial.

In October 2002 the authorities tracked him down to a council house in south London and took him to Belmarsh Prison.

He was eventually freed on bail in March 2005, but was made subject of a control order to limit his movements.

In August that year he was taken back into custody pending extradition to Jordan.