Failure to deport 13,000 foreign criminals – equivalent to a “small town” – will lead people to “question the point” of the UK remaining in the EU, the Home Affairs Committee says.

It was “deeply concerning” that 5,789 overseas criminals were free in the UK, more than anytime since 2012, MPs said.

The top three nationalities among the offenders were Polish, Irish and Romanian – all EU nations – they said.

The Home Office said it deported record numbers of EU criminals last year.

However, the cross-party committee said progress has been “too slow”.

‘Clear inefficiencies’

The total number of foreign national offenders currently in the UK – both in detention and living in the community – was over 13,000, or “the size of a small town”, it said.

MPs criticised the Home Office for consistently failing to remove convicts, despite their home nations being part of the 28-member bloc.

Polish criminals accounted for 983 offenders, while 764 were from Ireland, and 635 from Romania, their report said.

The issue would undermine the public’s confidence in the UK’s immigration system, and faith in Britain’s EU membership, they warned.

“The clear inefficiencies demonstrated by this process will lead the public to question the point of the UK remaining a member of the EU,” the report said.

‘Repeated warnings’

Home Secretary Theresa May was “unconvincing in suggesting that remaining a member of the EU will make it easier to remove these individuals from the UK”, it said.

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