Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller (right), looks on as Chief of Defence Staff, Major General Antony Anderson is introduced to Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (UK), the Rt. Hon. David Cameron (third right), by British High Commissioner to Jamaica, His Excellency David Fitton (left). (Dave Reid image/JIS)
News Americas, LONDON, England, Weds. Sept. 30, 2015: More than 300 Jamaican prisoners serving time in British jails are being given the boot back to their homeland as Prime Minister David Cameron made the first visit by a UK Prime Minister to Jamaica in 14 years.
The prisoners will be returned back to their homelands to serve their sentence under an agreement signed by the UK and Jamaica today and concluded after years of negotiations. Cameron landed on the Caribbean island last evening. He is accompanied by Justine Greening, from the Department for International Development.
Sixty-nine percent of sentenced Jamaican prisoners were serving sentences for violence and drug offences. As of June 30, 2015, there were 619 Jamaican nationals in prisons in England and Wales. Approx 60% of these were serving sentences of 4 years or more, including indeterminate sentences.
“It is absolutely right that foreign criminals who break our laws are properly punished but this shouldn’t be at the expense of the hardworking British taxpayer,” PM Cameron commented. “That’s why this agreement is so important. It will mean Jamaican criminals are sent back home to serve their sentences, saving the British taxpayer millions of pounds but still ensuring justice is done. And it will help Jamaica, by helping to provide a new prison – strengthening their criminal justice system.”
The UK will provide £25 million from the government’s existing aid budget to help fund the construction of a new 1500 bed prison in Jamaica, overcoming one of the sticking points in the negotiations which had been the conditions in existing prisons in Jamaica. The prison is expected to be built by 2020 and from then returns will get underway.
The Prisoner Transfer Agreement is expected to save British taxpayers around £10 million a year once the first prisoners are returned from 2020 onwards.
The agreement provides for the transfer of prisoners who have received sentences of 4 years or more and who have 18 months or more left to serve in custody. The average annual cost of a prison place in the UK is £25,900.
PM Cameron is on a two-day official visit to the island where he is expected to address a joint sitting of the houses of Parliament today, Wednesday, September 30th.