London police & UKBA's joint operation aims for rapid deportation of foreign criminals
New ways of working by joint Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) and UK Border Agency (UKBA) teams based in every custody suite across London are already making London's streets safer, Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley announced Friday 9 November.
Everbody arrested in the London area from now on will automatically have their immigration status checked, and if they appear to be involved in criminal activities and are not native to Britain will be deported.
Ghanaian Frezel Poku (l) and Albanian Xhafer Nezaj (r) have both been deported after arrests
AC Rowley, in charge of Specialist Crime and Operations, said: "As London becomes an increasingly international city we need to make sure that we are as effective at catching or stopping offenders from abroad as we are domestic offenders. That applies equally to if an officer is arresting a burglar or proactively targeting a violent gang member. We need to be as effective as we are with the three quarters of offenders who are British, who we know more about. That requires better intelligence sharing and bringing them to justice through an increased range of options.
"We want London to be a safe city for everyone who lives here, and that includes the increasing number of foreign nationals who chose to call it home. This strengthened approach is about catching criminals, preventing violence and making our streets safer for everyone.
"Intelligence shows that 27% of all those people arrested for a criminal offence - 25% of the highest harm gang offenders and 15% of known sex offenders - are foreign nationals. Our closer collaboration with UKBA is about focusing on preventing risk on our streets for all of us, now and in the future. It is about operating quicker, smarter, with the best possible intelligence and practices."
Operation Nexus, designed and delivered by the MPS and UKBA, aims to maximise intelligence, information and world wide links to improve how we deal with and respond to foreign nationals breaking the law.
When someone is brought into a custody suite for a crime the teams will run identity checks to find out everything they can about the person they have arrested to make sure we take the quickest and most affective action. When someone is arrested for burglary, police check if they are a repeat burglar, as that influences bail and charging decisions. Now the Nexus teams can run checks to establish if foreign nationals who are arrested are wanted abroad, have previous convictions abroad or are here illegally.
Nexus maximises all available intelligence in support of the MPS's commitment to proactively tackle those in London who pose the highest risk of harm to our communities, through being the most dangerous or the most prolific. This provides the police and UKBA with additional tactics to target those high risk offenders who are also foreign nationals. Initially, Nexus flags are placed on high harm individuals to make sure that they cannot get British Citizenship whilst cases are brought against them or whilst they are in the UK justice system.
Police then work to give the UKBA intelligence 'histories', which give a complete picture of how dangerous and harmful individuals are to bolster their own processes. Police draw together information on previous convictions but support it with details of relevant arrests despite no charges being brought, where they have been accused of breaking the law, cases where they have been victims or witnesses to violent crimes but refused to cooperate with police and an important list of gang or violent offenders associations.
Mark Harper, Immigration Minister, said:
"I've been clear that we will take all possible action against individuals who pose a risk to the public and remove them from the country at the earliest opportunity.
"Through our combined work with the police we will use the full force of immigration powers on those who seek to commit crime and damage our communities"
"This operation has already successfully proven that foreign nationals who continue to offend in this country illegally will be arrested and removed from the UK."
Rob Whiteman, UKBA Chief Executive, said:
"The ability to build on existing resources and share intelligence with MPS will allow us to target high harm offenders in London more effectively than ever before.
"The use of UKBA staff in police custody suites will make it even more difficult for people who are here illegally and enter the UK to abuse the immigration system."
AC Rowley concluded: "Around eight million people live in our city, and what all residents expect is a police service that does its utmost to keep them safe. 33% of those London residents are now thought to be foreign nationals, which is reflected in the percentage of people we are arresting.
"We will continue to explore every tactic to make London safer. Now we are looking to the future to develop a process that prevents foreign nationals from having the opportunity to offend in London in the first place. This may include Nexus checks being run on behalf of British Embassies abroad when people apply for visas to visit the UK. This is all designed to use every option to target those high risk people with a history of violence and crime, and prevent them from being able to repeat this on our streets.
"Nexus is dealing with those people who we catch offending, but also takes a long term preventative approach by stopping people from returning or being able to arrive in the first place."
Looking ahead to the future the Nexus teams will pass fingerprints, and other forensic markers, through databases around the world to see if people are known or wanted for offences in other countries. This is currently providing successful results through using the UKBA database.
In the five week period since the Nexus teams were rolled out in custody suites across London the MPS arrested 25,968 people. 6,988 (27%) were identified as foreign nationals.
155 of these were immediately detained by the UKBA for immigration matters, 25% of which have already been removed from the UK.
Breakdown of arrests of the 155 immediately dealt with by the UKBA:
Violence - 43
Sexual offences - 13
Drug offences - 18
Theft - 27
Burglary - 9
Robbery - 1
Fraud - 23
Weapons - 2
Other - 19
Frezel Poku, aged 21, a Ghanaian national, was removed after police and UKBA made successful use of his high harm intelligence 'history'. This was the first non terrorist related case where someone with leave to remain in the UK was removed after police and UKBA intelligence was presented.
Poku was a self confessed prominent member of a high harm gang in Croydon.
His 'history' included:
Convictions in 2007 for robbery and attempted robbery in 2008.
Arrests for numerous gang related 'group' robbery offences on the public transport system and for theft after being stopped by police driving a vehicle stolen in a burglary.
Other intelligence included images showing Poku with known gang members with guns, knives and money. Plus a YouTube video of him threatening to stab other gangs.
21 year old Albanian national Xhafer Nezaj, was removed from the UK the day after his arrest for affray, under Operation Nexus. On his arrest officers found him to be in possession of false identify documents.
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