Press release

UK signs deal to send Jamaican prisoners home

An agreement between the UK and Jamaica allows Jamaican prisoners serving time in British prisons to return home.

More than 300 Jamaican prisoners serving time in British jails will be returned back to Jamaica to serve their sentence under an agreement signed by the UK and Jamaica today.

The agreement was concluded today after years of negotiations as the Prime Minister made the first visit by a UK Prime Minister to Jamaica in 14 years.

It is expected to save British taxpayers around £10 million over 30 years once the first prisoners are returned from 2020 onwards.

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.

Welcoming the agreement, the Prime Minister said:

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.

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.

While the UK has Prisoner Transfer Agreements with a number of countries, the new deal with Jamaica is an important step forward because Jamaicans account for the third largest group of foreign national offenders in UK prisons.

Notes to editors

  1. 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.
  2. As at 30 June 2015, there were 619 Jamaican nationals in prisons in England and Wales.
  3. Approx 60% of these were serving sentences of 4 years or more, including indeterminate sentences.
  4. The average annual cost of a prison place in the UK is £25,900.
  5. 69% of sentenced Jamaican prisoners were serving sentences for violence and drug offences.
  6. Compulsory transfer agreements are in place with Albania, Nigeria, Somaliland and Rwanda.