Foreigners to Justice? Irregular migrants and foreign national offenders in England and Wales

    by:
  • Rob Canton (Professor and Head of the Division of Community and Criminal Justice, De¬†Montfort¬†University Leicester)
  • Nick Hammond (Equality Officer, is the foreign national offender lead in London Probation Trust)


There is a long tradition of blaming foreigners for crime problems in England and Wales. The contemporary manifestation of this centres on suspicion about the involvement in crime of foreign nationals and irregular migrants. General descriptive terms like foreign nationals encompass people in widely diverse circumstances and of different legal immigration statuses. Debates about crime and about the management of movement across national borders have become entangled in political debate, to the detriment of clear thinking about either matter. The rehabilitation principle has a different significance and application for foreign nationals, in practice if not in law. The limited statistics available concerning the involvement of foreign nationals in crime and their treatment by judicial and criminal justice agencies, require more analysis. In criminal justice and sentencing, there are no formal requirements for agencies and courts to bring different principles to their decisions about foreign nationals, but in practice this group of offenders can be disadvantaged. The context of offending by foreign nationals and their distinctive and individual needs are often insufficiently appreciated and too little is done to support rehabilitation and desistance. The perceived political imperative to remove foreign national offenders by deportation distorts any principled approach to policy and practice.

Keywords: Foreign Nationals, Irregular migrants, Rehabilitation, England and Wales

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