Three cases in the local Crown Court on two successive days.
Today. An Indian citizen, who’d entered the country legally on his Indian passport as a visitor and then overstayed, working illegally, tried to leave the country to return to India. Worried about what might happen when the Immigration Authorities spotted he’d overstayed by a year, he equipped himself with a false British passport, which was detected at the airport. Twelve months in prison, which, in effect, means he’ll be deported to India (where he wanted to go in the first place) after 6 months.
A similar fate befell a chap from Cameroon, who’d entered the country illegally a year or so ago, couldn’t get on here as an illegal immigrant because he couldn’t learn English, so equipped himself with a stolen French passport and was caught trying to board a plane to Canada (presumably hoping his native French would serve him better in Quebec).
These two chaps will at least be deported at the end of their sentences, but no one knows what’ll happen to the lady who appeared yesterday. She’s from Somalia, or says she is, and has been working illegally — though perfectly satisfactorily — as a contract cleaner on the minimum wage for the last couple of years after her application for asylum was refused, thus obtaining a pecuniary advantage by deception (the deception being that she falsely represented herself as being allowed to work here). Six months, which means she’ll be out in two weeks, having spent the last two-and-a-half months on remand.
No one’s sure what’ll happen to her after that. The Immigration Service don’t seem to have taken any particular interest in her whereabouts or fate since arresting her for working illegally and handing her over to the police. Part of the problem seems to be that her application for asylum was refused because they didn’t believe she’s from Somalia, which obviously means they can’t really try to deport her there, but they’ve no idea where they do want to send her.
In the meantime, of course, the poor woman’s got to eat so, assuming she isn’t released into the indefinate custody of Dr Reid’s minions, she’ll have little choice but to continue her criminal career as a contract cleaner.
I’m really not sure what to do. In the case of the first two chaps, obviously having and trying to use fake passports is a serious matter, particularly at the moment, but I’m not sure that blocking a prison place for six months is the best response. And in the case of the woman from Somalia or wherever it is, she’s doing no harm to anyone as far as I can see. She’s only a burden on the taxpayer because the law insists the courts make her one.