200 Albanian offenders to be sent home from UK cells in prison transfer scheme

The Government has announced 200 Albanian nationals jailed in England and Wales will be sent home for the rest of their sentence – amid concerns that UK prisons are nearing capacity.

Offenders handed terms of four years or more will return to their native country to serve the remainder, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) said.

The arrangement will also see Britain provide support to Albania to help modernise its own prison system, according to the department.

Cabinet meeting
Secretary of State for Justice Alex Chalk arrives at 10 Downing Street (Victoria Jones/PA)

It comes after justice minister Lord Bellamy KC told Parliament that jails are “quite tight” and at 99% capacity.

Speaking to peers, he said the Government is concerned about the increasing prison population and how it is nearing its upper limit.

The MoJ said the new deal will “free up” jail space in England and Wales and double the number of offenders without UK citizenship removed annually.

Between 27 April 2021 and 27 April 2023, the Government repatriated 112 inmates under prisoner transfer agreements.

Justice Secretary Alex Chalk said: “I am grateful to my Albanian counterpart, Ulsi Manja, for his efforts to shape our growing partnership on justice issues.

“The public expects that foreign criminals should serve their sentences overseas – not in our prisons at the expense of the taxpayer.

“This deal will speed up the removal of these offenders and give victims confidence that serious criminals will continue to face justice and spend the remainder of their sentence behind bars.

“Collaboration with our international partners is an essential part of making this possible.”

Ulsi Manja, the Albanian justice minister, said: “This new arrangement demonstrates the strong partnership between the UK and Albanian governments.

“Two years after the agreement for the transfer of prisoners from the United Kingdom to Albania was ratified, we have concluded a technical arrangement that will benefit both countries.

“At its core, every Albanian convict in the United Kingdom shall be given the opportunity to serve the remaining sentence in Albania, near their families, while we also increase our efforts to ensure the modernisation of the Albanian penitentiary system.”