The number of EU citizens detain for suspected UK immigration offences has increased by 27 per cent in the past 12 months, according to data revealed by a new Home Office report.
Released by UK immigration minister Brandon Lewis, the statistics for the first quarter of 2017 revealed that 3,699 people were being held under the Immigration Act in 2015, rising by 1,000 in 2016 following Britain’s vote to leave the European Union.
The Home Office figures suggest this number is set to rise again in 2017, as the number of EU citizens detained in the first quarter of the year was found to be up by 16 per cent when compared to the first quarter of 2016.
According to reports, one of the possible reasons behind this increase may be the introduction of new guidance in May 2016, which made it possible for immigration enforcement agencies to deport EU citizens based on nothing more than sleeping rough.
The figures also suggest that the number of EU citizens detained for UK immigration offences has increased from just 768 before the coalition government took power in 2009 to 4,699 last year.
According to Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Ed Davey, the figures highlight a need for the government to offer a detailed explanation for the rise in the number of EU citizens being detained.
“The Conservatives seem hellbent on creating a hostile environment for anyone not from the UK,” he said. “These scare tactics should be beneath any civilised government. It risks damaging our reputation abroad and will ultimately serve us badly in the negotiations with the EU.”