Priti Patel: Booting out foreign criminals will make our streets safer

During a visit to the Black Country the Home Secretary said she was "unapologetic" about deporting foreign offenders "who have committed the most vile crimes to British citizens".

Home Secretary Priti Patel took a walk around the streets of West Bromwich with Jay Singh-Sohal and town MP Nicola Richards
Home Secretary Priti Patel took a walk around the streets of West Bromwich with Jay Singh-Sohal and town MP Nicola Richards

The Home Secretary said the deportation of foreign criminals was a key part of her long term plans to make the region's streets safer.

Priti Patel said foreign criminals such as murderers and rapists "should not be staying in our country" and vowed to bring in new powers to speed up their deportation.

She said the move was part of a wider package of measures aimed at clamping down on crime, including greater resources for West Midlands Police and beefed up legislation such as the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.

Mrs Patel visited the Black Country to back Conservative Jay Singh-Sohal's campaign for West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC).

She met with Chief Constable Sir David Thompson before joining Nicola Richards MP and Mr Singh-Sohal on a walk through the streets of West Bromwich, popping into the New Square shopping centre and chatting with shoppers and traders on High Street.

Mrs Patel recently announced plans to expend the the early removal scheme (ERS) to allow jailed foreign prisoners to be deported up to a year before the end of their sentence.

It comes after Labour politicians joined a number of celebrities in campaigning to stop a deportation flight filled with hardened criminals in December.

The Home Secretary told the Express & Star: "I am unapologetic about the need to remove foreign national offenders who have committed the most vile crimes to British citizens.

"That includes murderers, rapists, people who have done appalling things to children.

"They should not be staying in our country, and it says a great deal that Labour politicians want to allow these individuals to stay here and live a free life.

"They have been campaigning actively against the removal of these individuals and it's an absolute outrage.

"Our priority is public protection and public safety and I will do everything I possibly can to have these people removed from the United Kingdom."

Labour MP and mayoral candidate Liam Byrne is among those who opposed the December deportations, arguing that the move could "break up families".

Mrs Patel said she wanted to see violent crime fall in the region, insisting West Midlands Police was being given the resources needed to tackle the issue.

She hailed the force's efforts in disrupting county lines drugs gangs and said a huge increase in officer numbers over the next two years would help reduce all forms of crime further.

"There is a lot more to do and the work can never stop," Mrs Patel said. "But I am absolutely clear that we will continue to back the police to make our streets and communities safer."

The Home Secretary says it was vital the region had a strong Police and Crime Commissioner in place to ensure the force was "putting resources in the right place and focusing on high crime and high harm areas".

She hit out at current Labour PCC David Jamieson for referring to Mr Singh-Sohal as being "from the far right" at a recent campaign launch.

"Jay is a grassroots campaigner who is standing for election because he cares about the community that he lives in and the community he wants to serve," Mrs Patel said.

"His plans going forward are putting community safety at the forefront. Those comments from the Labour commissioner are completely out of kilter with Jay's mission to bring greater safety to the people of the West Midlands."

Mr Jamieson has said his intention was to say Mr Singh-Sohal had "a right wing agenda".

Asked if she thought British police could learn anything from the George Floyd murder case, the Home Secretary said it was wrong to compare policing in the UK and the US.

"The tragedy around George Floyd speaks for itself and obviously the US courts are dealing with that right now," she said.

"The thing I would say about British policing is that we are so different to policing in America.

"We are unique. We police by consent in the UK and we are better for it. It's grassroots policing and it is bottom up.

"Our police officers are very much a part of the community where they serve. That is Peelian principle which is embedded in British policing.

"I speak to officers every single day and when you think about the last 12 months our police officers have served their communities with a great deal of pride throughout the pandemic.

"The British public have been very compliant and have engaged with the police, I think that speaks volumes, it really does. We cannot and should not be compared with the United States."

Mr Jamieson is standing down in the PCC elections on May 6.

Candidates to replace him include Mr Singh-Sohal, Labour's Simon Foster, Birmingham pub bombings campaigner Julie Hambleton, Lib Dem Jon Hunt, Desmond Jaddoo from the We Matter Party, and Reform UK's Mark Hoath.

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