A new law the home secretary claimed would crack down on foreign criminals and “make our country safer” currently applies to an average of 10 people a year, figures reveal.

Priti Patel said the government would increase the punishment for breaching deportation orders to “deter foreign criminals from returning to the UK”.

But official statistics analysed by The Independent show that only a handful of people have been convicted of the crime in recent years.

We’ll tell you what’s true. You can form your own view.

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Only four people were prosecuted for entering the UK in breach of a deportation order in 2013, with the figure rising to 28 last year. The annual average is 10 prosecutions a year.

The change would be enacted through a new Foreign National Offenders Bill, which was among numerous law proposed in Monday’s Queen’s Speech.

Shape Created with Sketch.
UK news in pictures

Shape Created with Sketch.
UK news in pictures

1/50 14 October 2019

Queen Elizabeth II sits with Prince Charles on the Sovereign’s throne ahead of delivering the Queen’s Speech at the State Opening of Parliament

2/50 13 October 2019

Great Britain’s Joe Fraser competes on Parallel Bars during the World Gymnastics Championships in Stuttgart, Germany. He claimed GB’s second gold with his victory. The 20-year-old from Birmingham nailed his routine to score 15.0 then watched as a series of rivals failed to live up to his total

3/50 12 October 2019

St Helens players celebrate with the trophy after they won the Super League Grand Final at Old Trafford in Manchester. They beat Salford Red Devils 23-6

4/50 11 October 2019

Richard Ratcliffe, husband of British-Iranian aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe jailed in Tehran since 2016, holds his daughter Gabriella during a news conference in London. Their five-year-old daughter has arrived back in Britain, after making the “bittersweet” decision to bring her home

5/50 10 October 2019

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at Thornton Manor. Their meeting focused on further Brexit proposals

6/50 9 October 2019

Wales survived an almighty scare against Fiji to secure quarter-final spot at the rugby world cup. Warren Gatland’s side recovered from a 10-0 deficit thanks to a hat-trick from Josh Adams

7/50 8 October 2019

Protesters dubbed the Red Rebels at Millbank at the junction with Great College Street, during an Extinction Rebellion protest in Westminster

8/50 7 October 2019

Final preparations are made in front of a reproduction of Michelangelo’s ‘The Last Judgement’, ahead of the opening of for the ‘Michelangelo: A Different View’ exhibition at Hull Minister

9/50 6 October 2019

A car drives through a flooded street in Whitley Bay in Northumberland

10/50 5 October 2019

Thousands took to the streets of Edinburgh today to march in support of a second Scottish independence referendum

11/50 4 October 2019

A 12ft sculpture of a gorilla, entitled ‘Gorilla Apocalypse’, created by Luke Kite entirely from scrap car bumpers and panels discarded in the last decade is on display at the British Ironwork Centre in Oswestry, Shropshire

12/50 3 October 2019

Police stands in front of the Treasury building during an Extinction Rebellion protest in London

13/50 2 October 2019

Ex-Thomas Cook employees demonstrate in London after delivering a petition calling for a full inquiry into Thomas Cook’s collapse and for the company’s directors to pay back their bonuses

14/50 1 October 2019

A road in Alum Rock, Birmingham is flooded after persistent heavy rain

15/50 30 September 2019

Two tourists pose for pictures in front of Union and EU flags outside the Houses of Parliament in London

16/50 29 September 2019

A sheep on London Bridge as Freemen of the City of London took up their historic entitlement to drive sheep over the bridge, which was once London’s only river crossing

17/50 28 September 2019

An Aldabra giant tortoise is fed watermelon as a treat at the Malvern Autumn Show, at the Three Counties Showground near Malvern in Worcestershire

18/50 27 September 2019

Gallery assistants pose with an artwork entitled ‘Devolved Parliament’ by British artist Banksy, during a press view in London ahead of Sotheby’s contemporary art sale, as part of the Frieze Art Fair

19/50 26 September 2019

England’s Jonathan Joseph is tackled by United State’s Marcel Brache during their group match at the Rugby World Cup in Japan. England scored seven tries on their way to winning 45-7

20/50 25 September 2019

Tributes for former Rangers player Fernando Ricksen at Ibrox Stadium. Today, the funeral procession will pass Ibrox Stadium before making the journey to Wellington Church

21/50 24 September 2019

A person dressed as a caricature of Prime Minister Boris Johnson in a prison uniform stands outside the Supreme Court after it ruled that his decision to suspend Parliament was illegal

22/50 23 September 2019

Thomas Cook aircraft are parked up at Manchester Airport on the day they collapsed after rescue talks failed. A total of 22,000 jobs – including 9,000 in UK – are to be lost following administration. More than 150,000 British holidaymakers need to be brought home, with the government and CAA hiring dozens of charter planes to fly customers home free of charge

23/50 22 September 2019

Fire performer Penella Bee performs before people take part in the North East Skinny Dip at Druridge Bay in Nothumberland, an annual event that marks the Autumn Equinox and raises money for MIND – the Mental Health Charity

24/50 21 September 2019

Protesters gather for a march and rally organised by “The People’s Vote” in Brighton, to call for politicians to give the public a final say referendum on Brexit

25/50 20 September 2019

Protesters in London joined millions across world to demand urgent action to save planet in the largest environmental protest in history

26/50 19 September 2019

Rapper Dave poses with the Mercury Prize: Albums of the Year Award at Apollo

27/50 18 September 2019

A surfer in action during sunrise at Tynemouth on the north east coast

28/50 17 September 2019

Protesters dressed as the Incredible Hulk and Robocop outside the Supreme Court in London where judges are due to consider legal challenges to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend Parliament. The Supreme Court will hear appeals over three days from two separate challenges to the prorogation of Parliament brought in England and Scotland

29/50 16 September 2019

Farmer Tom Hoggard harvests pumpkins at Howe Bridge Farm in Yorkshire, ahead of Halloween

30/50 15 September 2019

Team Europe celebrate winning the Solheim Cup at Gleneagles in Auchterarder, Scotland. Europe won the last three singles matches to claim victory 14½-13½
Sunset at St Mary’s Lighthouse in Whitley Bay

32/50 13 September 2019

Activists from PETA stage a demonstration outside a venue during London Fashion Week in London, Britain

33/50 12 September 2019

Australia’s Marnus Labuschagne attempts to stop a boundary in the fifth Test

34/50 11 September 2019

Storm clouds gather over the pier just off the North East coast at South Shields

35/50 10 September 2019

The peloton rides past the Angel of the North during stage four of the Tour of Britain from Gateshead to Kendal

36/50 9 September 2019

A penny farthing cyclist rides past St. John’s, Smith Square, Westminster, London

37/50 8 September 2019

Australia celebrate the wicket of England’s Craig Overton, which meant they won the fourth test and retained the Ashes

38/50 7 September 2019

Manchester City celebrate after Caroline Weir scored during their Women’s Super League match against Manchester United at Etihad Stadium. The WSL attendance record was smashed with 31,213 people watching the first Manchester derby of Women’s Super League era – nearly six times the previous WSL record

39/50 6 September 2019

A bull bumps into a plain clothes police officer (left) while being walked by Prime Minister Boris Johnson during his visit to Darnford Farm in Banchory near Aberdeen. It coincided with the publication of Lord Bew’s review and an announcement of extra funding for Scottish farmers

40/50 5 September 2019

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon cuts the hair of David Torrance MSP raising £1000 for the charity Maggie’s Centre in Kirkcaldy at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh

41/50 4 September 2019

Australia’s David Warner looks dejected after being dismissed by England’s Stuart Broad during day one of the fourth Ashes Test at Old Trafford in Manchester

42/50 3 September 2019

Anti Brexit demonstrators attend a protest at Parliament Square. Lawmakers returned from their summer recess Tuesday for a pivotal day in British politics as they challenged Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s insistence that the UK leave the European Union on 31 October, even without a withdrawal agreement to cushion the economic blow

43/50 2 September 2019

Set building begins on Waterloo Place in Edinburgh ahead of filming for Fast and Furious 9

44/50 1 September 2019

Members of the Royal Southern Yacht Club and the Island Sailing Club take part during the annual cricket match between the clubs, which takes place on the Bramble Bank sandbank in the middle of the Solent at low tide
Anti-Brexit protesters demonstrate at Whitehall in London

46/50 30 August 2019

One of the iconic ‘Girl with Balloon’ artworks by anonymous street artist Banksy is carried near one of the original locations the artwork appeared at on the Southbank in London

47/50 29 August 2019

The sun rises over the sculpture “The Couple” by artist Sean Henry, at Newbiggin-by-the-sea in Northumberland

48/50 28 August 2019

A person wearing a Boris Johnson ‘head’ digs a grave at the foot of a tombstone during a protest organised by Avaaz and Best for Britain, outside Downing Street in London

49/50 27 August 2019

Nat Lofthouse statue is covered in flags at the University of Bolton Stadium, Bolton

50/50 26 August 2019

Performers take part in Notting Hill Carnival. Nearly one million people were expected to attend Sunday and Monday’s carnival to celebrate Caribbean culture

1/50 14 October 2019

Queen Elizabeth II sits with Prince Charles on the Sovereign’s throne ahead of delivering the Queen’s Speech at the State Opening of Parliament

2/50 13 October 2019

Great Britain’s Joe Fraser competes on Parallel Bars during the World Gymnastics Championships in Stuttgart, Germany. He claimed GB’s second gold with his victory. The 20-year-old from Birmingham nailed his routine to score 15.0 then watched as a series of rivals failed to live up to his total

3/50 12 October 2019

St Helens players celebrate with the trophy after they won the Super League Grand Final at Old Trafford in Manchester. They beat Salford Red Devils 23-6

4/50 11 October 2019

Richard Ratcliffe, husband of British-Iranian aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe jailed in Tehran since 2016, holds his daughter Gabriella during a news conference in London. Their five-year-old daughter has arrived back in Britain, after making the “bittersweet” decision to bring her home

5/50 10 October 2019

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at Thornton Manor. Their meeting focused on further Brexit proposals

6/50 9 October 2019

Wales survived an almighty scare against Fiji to secure quarter-final spot at the rugby world cup. Warren Gatland’s side recovered from a 10-0 deficit thanks to a hat-trick from Josh Adams

7/50 8 October 2019

Protesters dubbed the Red Rebels at Millbank at the junction with Great College Street, during an Extinction Rebellion protest in Westminster

8/50 7 October 2019

Final preparations are made in front of a reproduction of Michelangelo’s ‘The Last Judgement’, ahead of the opening of for the ‘Michelangelo: A Different View’ exhibition at Hull Minister

9/50 6 October 2019

A car drives through a flooded street in Whitley Bay in Northumberland

10/50 5 October 2019

Thousands took to the streets of Edinburgh today to march in support of a second Scottish independence referendum

11/50 4 October 2019

A 12ft sculpture of a gorilla, entitled ‘Gorilla Apocalypse’, created by Luke Kite entirely from scrap car bumpers and panels discarded in the last decade is on display at the British Ironwork Centre in Oswestry, Shropshire

12/50 3 October 2019

Police stands in front of the Treasury building during an Extinction Rebellion protest in London

13/50 2 October 2019

Ex-Thomas Cook employees demonstrate in London after delivering a petition calling for a full inquiry into Thomas Cook’s collapse and for the company’s directors to pay back their bonuses

14/50 1 October 2019

A road in Alum Rock, Birmingham is flooded after persistent heavy rain

15/50 30 September 2019

Two tourists pose for pictures in front of Union and EU flags outside the Houses of Parliament in London

16/50 29 September 2019

A sheep on London Bridge as Freemen of the City of London took up their historic entitlement to drive sheep over the bridge, which was once London’s only river crossing

17/50 28 September 2019

An Aldabra giant tortoise is fed watermelon as a treat at the Malvern Autumn Show, at the Three Counties Showground near Malvern in Worcestershire

18/50 27 September 2019

Gallery assistants pose with an artwork entitled ‘Devolved Parliament’ by British artist Banksy, during a press view in London ahead of Sotheby’s contemporary art sale, as part of the Frieze Art Fair

19/50 26 September 2019

England’s Jonathan Joseph is tackled by United State’s Marcel Brache during their group match at the Rugby World Cup in Japan. England scored seven tries on their way to winning 45-7

20/50 25 September 2019

Tributes for former Rangers player Fernando Ricksen at Ibrox Stadium. Today, the funeral procession will pass Ibrox Stadium before making the journey to Wellington Church

21/50 24 September 2019

A person dressed as a caricature of Prime Minister Boris Johnson in a prison uniform stands outside the Supreme Court after it ruled that his decision to suspend Parliament was illegal

22/50 23 September 2019

Thomas Cook aircraft are parked up at Manchester Airport on the day they collapsed after rescue talks failed. A total of 22,000 jobs – including 9,000 in UK – are to be lost following administration. More than 150,000 British holidaymakers need to be brought home, with the government and CAA hiring dozens of charter planes to fly customers home free of charge

23/50 22 September 2019

Fire performer Penella Bee performs before people take part in the North East Skinny Dip at Druridge Bay in Nothumberland, an annual event that marks the Autumn Equinox and raises money for MIND – the Mental Health Charity

24/50 21 September 2019

Protesters gather for a march and rally organised by “The People’s Vote” in Brighton, to call for politicians to give the public a final say referendum on Brexit

25/50 20 September 2019

Protesters in London joined millions across world to demand urgent action to save planet in the largest environmental protest in history

26/50 19 September 2019

Rapper Dave poses with the Mercury Prize: Albums of the Year Award at Apollo

27/50 18 September 2019

A surfer in action during sunrise at Tynemouth on the north east coast

28/50 17 September 2019

Protesters dressed as the Incredible Hulk and Robocop outside the Supreme Court in London where judges are due to consider legal challenges to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend Parliament. The Supreme Court will hear appeals over three days from two separate challenges to the prorogation of Parliament brought in England and Scotland

29/50 16 September 2019

Farmer Tom Hoggard harvests pumpkins at Howe Bridge Farm in Yorkshire, ahead of Halloween

30/50 15 September 2019

Team Europe celebrate winning the Solheim Cup at Gleneagles in Auchterarder, Scotland. Europe won the last three singles matches to claim victory 14½-13½
Sunset at St Mary’s Lighthouse in Whitley Bay

32/50 13 September 2019

Activists from PETA stage a demonstration outside a venue during London Fashion Week in London, Britain

33/50 12 September 2019

Australia’s Marnus Labuschagne attempts to stop a boundary in the fifth Test

34/50 11 September 2019

Storm clouds gather over the pier just off the North East coast at South Shields

35/50 10 September 2019

The peloton rides past the Angel of the North during stage four of the Tour of Britain from Gateshead to Kendal

36/50 9 September 2019

A penny farthing cyclist rides past St. John’s, Smith Square, Westminster, London

37/50 8 September 2019

Australia celebrate the wicket of England’s Craig Overton, which meant they won the fourth test and retained the Ashes

38/50 7 September 2019

Manchester City celebrate after Caroline Weir scored during their Women’s Super League match against Manchester United at Etihad Stadium. The WSL attendance record was smashed with 31,213 people watching the first Manchester derby of Women’s Super League era – nearly six times the previous WSL record

39/50 6 September 2019

A bull bumps into a plain clothes police officer (left) while being walked by Prime Minister Boris Johnson during his visit to Darnford Farm in Banchory near Aberdeen. It coincided with the publication of Lord Bew’s review and an announcement of extra funding for Scottish farmers

40/50 5 September 2019

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon cuts the hair of David Torrance MSP raising £1000 for the charity Maggie’s Centre in Kirkcaldy at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh

41/50 4 September 2019

Australia’s David Warner looks dejected after being dismissed by England’s Stuart Broad during day one of the fourth Ashes Test at Old Trafford in Manchester

42/50 3 September 2019

Anti Brexit demonstrators attend a protest at Parliament Square. Lawmakers returned from their summer recess Tuesday for a pivotal day in British politics as they challenged Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s insistence that the UK leave the European Union on 31 October, even without a withdrawal agreement to cushion the economic blow

43/50 2 September 2019

Set building begins on Waterloo Place in Edinburgh ahead of filming for Fast and Furious 9

44/50 1 September 2019

Members of the Royal Southern Yacht Club and the Island Sailing Club take part during the annual cricket match between the clubs, which takes place on the Bramble Bank sandbank in the middle of the Solent at low tide
Anti-Brexit protesters demonstrate at Whitehall in London

46/50 30 August 2019

One of the iconic ‘Girl with Balloon’ artworks by anonymous street artist Banksy is carried near one of the original locations the artwork appeared at on the Southbank in London

47/50 29 August 2019

The sun rises over the sculpture “The Couple” by artist Sean Henry, at Newbiggin-by-the-sea in Northumberland

48/50 28 August 2019

A person wearing a Boris Johnson ‘head’ digs a grave at the foot of a tombstone during a protest organised by Avaaz and Best for Britain, outside Downing Street in London

49/50 27 August 2019

Nat Lofthouse statue is covered in flags at the University of Bolton Stadium, Bolton

50/50 26 August 2019

Performers take part in Notting Hill Carnival. Nearly one million people were expected to attend Sunday and Monday’s carnival to celebrate Caribbean culture

“We have been a soft touch on foreign criminals for too long,” Ms Patel said. “The sentence for breaching a deportation order is far too low at the moment and many criminals conclude that it’s worth trying to get back in the country when all you get is a slap on the wrist. 

“Deterring foreign criminals from re-entering the country and putting those that do behind bars for longer will make our country safer.”

In a press briefing ahead of her speech, Downing Street said the sentence increase would affect an estimated 400 people a year but it was not clear how the figure was calculated.

It was one of 26 bills in the Queen’s Speech, which had a heavy focus on crime and justice.

Proposals included longer sentences for violent criminals, the delayed Domestic Abuse Bill, a legal duty on public bodies “to prevent and reduce serious violence”, increased protections for police officers and punishment for murderers who withhold information about their victims.

The government also announced the introduction of emergency legislation designed to allow the arrest of foreign criminals on the continent, if the UK loses access to the European Arrest Warrant system after Brexit.

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Senior police officers said they asked ministers to change the law so they can detain wanted foreign citizens on sight and avoid the risk of them absconding.

If Britain is excluded from the European Arrest Warrant it will fall back on Interpol “red notices”, which mean officers do not have the power to immediately detain suspects and have to apply for a court warrant.

The government proposed an Extradition (Provisional Arrest) Bill to replicate the powers, but it will only initially apply to criminals wanted by Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the US, Switzerland and Liechtenstein.

The Queen says government will ‘ensure it continues to play leading role in global affairs’ after Brexit

Political opponents called the Queen’s Speech “farcical” and accused the Conservatives of electioneering ahead of a potential government breakdown.

Diane Abbott, the shadow home secretary, said: “It is just an uncosted wish list which the government has no intention and no means to deliver, and nothing more than a pre-election party political broadcast.”

Criminal justice campaigners have criticised a focus on sentence increases, arguing that there is no proven link between harsher punishments and falling crime and that jailing more people will worsen a current crisis.

Others blamed the Conservatives for contributing to rising violence by cutting funding to police and the wider criminal justice system. 

Simon Davis, president of the Law Society of England and Wales, said: “Due to years of neglect, it is a system at breaking point. Tens of thousands of suspects are being released under investigation with neither conditions nor limits. Crucial evidence is not disclosed in court until the last minute, often leading to adjournments. In England and Wales more than half of courts have closed.”

He said tougher sentencing was unlikely to cause “any serious reduction in crime” or improve the rehabilitation of criminals already in prison.

“Only by investing across the board can the government reignite confidence in our ailing criminal justice system – or risk more crime falling through the cracks of investigation and prosecution,” Mr Davis said.

The Revolving Doors charity, which works to prevent reoffending, attacked the government for binning the Ministry of Justice’s own proposals under David Gauke to replace ineffective short jail sentences.

“There is nothing in these proposals that merits the term ‘law and order’,” a spokesperson said. “The prime minister should actually get smart on crime and do what we know works to make people safer.”

The Local Government Association also hit out at the proposed duty to prevent serious violence, saying that increased funding was needed to make meaningful change following cuts to youth services and public health budgets.

The government said it had not yet started consulting on a victims’ law to improve support and court outcomes, four years after it was first promised.

“The Queen’s Speech included warm words about more support and protections for victims of crime, but we’ve heard this before,” said Claire Waxman, the London victims commissioner. “I am calling for urgent meaningful action finally to deliver a victims’ law to ensure legally enforceable rights for victims of crime, giving them the confidence to report to the police, and so that they are properly supported through the criminal justice system and beyond.”