Convicted foreign criminals slipping into Britain

Robert Buczek, inset, murdered Eleanor Whitelaw in her Morningside home. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Robert Buczek, inset, murdered Eleanor Whitelaw in her Morningside home. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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CONVICTED criminals are being allowed to slip into ­Britain unnoticed to commit ­serious crimes, including murder and sexual assault, a report has claimed.

A study by MPs found that British police are unable to identify and arrest foreign criminals because the information they are being given is out of date.

“We’re unconvinced IT systems are fit for purpose”

MPs’ report

Home Office computer systems are not “fit for purpose”, making it harder for officials to track foreign criminals, the home affairs committee said, while officers fail to carry out criminal record checks on a third of foreigners arrested in the UK – where many have struck again.

The committee said there were 760 foreign offenders in the UK, including murderers, rapists and kidnappers, some of whom may have been on the run for up to five years.

The scathing report comes as new figures revealed that one in ten police incidents in Scotland now involves a foreign national and days after a Scottish judge sentenced Polish national Robert Buczek to 20 years in prison for murdering 85-year-old Edinburgh woman in her Morningside home. Buczek had a conviction for assaulting and robbing a pensioner in Poland.

Committee chairman Labour MP Keith Vaz said: “It is astonishing that even though we have these databases and the capacity to check every single person who is a foreign national and arrested in this country, it is only used in 67 per cent of cases.

“That means one-third of foreign nationals arrested in the UK do not have their criminal records checked. This is a lost opportunity to deal with people with a criminal past.” He said there are “many dangerous people” in Britain, but authorities do not know who is at risk because of the “failure to do even basic and routine checks”.

In the report, The Work Of The Immigration Directorates Calais, the committee cited the case of the murder of schoolgirl Alice Gross. She was killed by Latvian Arnis Zalkalns who had served seven years in jail in Latvia for murdering his wife. In another case, Professor Paul Kohler was beaten by Polish thugs at his home in Wimbledon, south-west London, last year. The gang were career criminals with a history of violent attacks in Poland.

The report warned: “The Home Office, the police and Border Force are clearly reliant on access to timely information to enable them to intervene when criminals attempt to enter the UK. The murder of Alice Gross and the violence inflicted on Prof Kohler show that such reliance is inadequate.”

It said the 15-year-old Warning Index system used by UK border staff to identify terrorists and criminals was “considerably overdue to be renewed”.

It added: “We support the government’s efforts to improve the data it receives from other countries on people with criminal records who the UK may consider undesirable. However, we are unconvinced that the Home Office’s IT systems are fit for purpose given the ever-increasing volume of data.”

A Home Office spokesman said: “Foreign criminals and terrorists have no place in the UK and this government is using every resource available to root them out and protect the public.

“Police criminal records checks on EU nationals have gone up over 700 per cent under this government, with just over 60,000 requests made to European partners in 2014. We have an outstanding system of public protection [and] lead the way in Europe.”

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