Monday, November 07, 2011

44 varieties of rioter

Why should it come as a shock to discover that rioters from 44 countries were involved in the summer’s riots?

This country has become the last refuge of scoundrels from all over the world.

Many of them come here to get as much as they can out of our welfare state. Some will lie and cheat to fiddle the system in their favour – and, in fairness, the system is set up to make that as easy as possible.

So if there’s looting afoot, no wonder they take whatever they can get. Smash-and-grab raids result in instant gratification and flat-screen TVs.

If you’re here to get what you can get in any case, it makes perfect sense to join your fellow migrants on the rampage through our towns and cities.

These people aren’t poor, starving, huddled masses. They co-ordinated their activities via Blackberry Messenger – what a pity the system didn’t crash earlier.

A friend saw a couple of them arrive outside the Bull Ring in Birmingham with a sack full of hoodies which they handed out to their fellow thieves so everyone could enjoy some anonymity from the CCTV cameras as they went about their rampage.

Admittedly the majority of the summer rioters were home-grown. But as the prisons fill up with those who have finally been brought to justice, 14 per cent are foreign.

They are from all over the world: the courts have jailed rioters from Afghanistan, Cuba, Ethiopia, Samoa, Jamaica, Somalia, Poland, Colombia, Iraq, Congo, Vietnam and Zimbabwe.

They weren’t rioting over “the cuts” – they were just enjoying the feeding frenzy and taking what they could while the going was good.

The Government is supposedly planning to get tough on these rioters. The Immigration Minister Damian Green has said more than once that foreign-born criminals should be thrown out of the country.

He declared at the time of the riots: “We strongly believe that foreign-national lawbreakers should be removed from the UK at the earliest opportunity.”

It sounds pretty straightforward – conviction, imprisonment, deportation.

What could be simpler than that except, maybe, deportation without imprisonment? Why should we pay for their board and lodging even in an overcrowded jail?

But we know already nothing is that simple when it comes to the way this country bends over backwards to accommodate undesirable aliens.

Tough-talking Mr Green has been forced to tone down his rhetoric. He now says: “Foreign nationals who were convicted of offences during the riots will be returned home wherever possible.”

Note, please, the weasel words “wherever possible”. It’s Mr Green’s get-out clause.

You might think the Government Minister in charge of immigration would have some power to say what is, and what is not, possible when it comes to chucking out foreign criminals.

You would, of course, be hugely disappointed if you put much faith in the Minister’s pronouncements.

For Mr Green is at the mercy of the European Convention on Human Rights which, as we all know, won’t even allow us to deport terrorists.

All they need is some lame excuse and they get to stay in this country no matter what they’ve done.

They may have a boyfriend and a nice cat; they may already have convictions at home which they want to avoid; they may even have British children and wives.

It’s easy to wriggle out of deportation. New Home Office figures show that – excluding the rioters – more than 5,000 foreign criminals have managed to escape being sent home.

In May this year there were 3,775 criminals who had been released from immigration detention centres because there was “no prospect of them being deported in a reasonable time”, according to John Vine, chief inspector of the UK Border Agency (not that we can trust a word that useless organisation says).

Of those, 3,259 had served sentences for low-level offences, another 429 for more serious crimes, and 87 for the most serious offences – including murder, rape and paedophilia.

On top of that, 1,600 were still behind bars after completing their sentences – costing us £55 million a year – because nobody knows what else to do with them. Another 12 had simply disappeared.

Not everyone used the Human Rights Act to escape deportation. Some refused to say what country they called home or they were due to return to “unsafe” countries.

But Mr Vine says that between February 2010 and January this year, 425 foreign prisoners – a third of those who appealed – won human rights cases against deportation. The Home Office gave another 151 permission to stay.

How much all this is costing us in Legal Aid payments to the serried ranks of human rights lawyers is anybody’s guess. But you can be pretty sure it would more than cover the cost of repairing the damage caused by the rioters in Wolverhampton and West Bromwich.

Mr Green is speaking for the vast armies of law-abiding people when he says foreign rioters should be kicked out of the country as soon as possible.

His party, he may recall, promised to scrap the Human Rights Act.

Luckily for the rioters, we have a Coalition Government and the Liberal Democrats won’t let the Conservatives do any such thing. Isn’t democracy wonderful?

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