Foreign national prisoners
In the last ten years the number of foreign nationals in prison has doubled and now represents over 14% of the total prison population in England and Wales. There are a huge range of nationalities and languages to be considered alongside the cultural and religious diversity that the foreign nationals already bring.
Prison staff are taking a proactive role in coping with their differing needs. Many establishments hold regular meetings between staff and prisoners to discuss the challenges facing foreign nationals, such as immigration status, staying in contact with family, language difficulties and resettlement. Some prisons produce magazines providing helpful advice and points of contact for prisoners during their time in custody. In addition to this, the invaluable booklet 'Information and Advice for Foreign National Prisoners' is available across the estate in 22 languages and contains substantial information on issues including prison regimes, support organisations and contacting families.
The Prison Service has worked hard to build closer relationships with Embassies and High Commissions, some of whom provide their own literature catering directly for their imprisoned citizens, as well as consular assistance.
The Prison Service and the UK Border Agency have been working together during the last 18 months to ensure that foreign nationals' immigration status is dealt with before their earliest release date. This has helped to ease the worries of many prisoners who were concerned when they would be removed from the United Kingdom. The UK Border Agency is also working to transfer a greater number of time expired prisoners from Prison Service establishments to Immigration Removal Centres.
In addition to the normal removal at the end of sentence, a prisoner can return home up to 135 days early by the Early Removal Scheme. Many foreign nationals are able to be repatriated to serve the remainder of their sentence in their home country. This enables the prisoner to be nearer their family and allows participate in rehabilitation programmes specific to their country.
The Facilitated Returns Scheme, launched in October 2006, provides incentives to foreign nationals nationals from outside the European Economic Area to return to their country of origin. Foreign nationals returning voluntarily can receive financial assistance to help their reintegration when returning home.