Albanian ambassador insists Albania is 'safe' amid asylum debate
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Around 50 have volunteered to be transferred under a landmark deal between London and Tirana, it was claimed last night.
Sources in Albania claimed the first flight could take off in January.
While London could not last night commit to that timeline, it is understood both governments are pressing on to find a date for the first flight.
It is step one from the two nations towards the routine removal of hundreds of imprisoned Albanian criminals. The move will save millions of pounds of UK taxpayers’ money and make space in overstretched jails.
All prisoners sent back will serve the full sentence imposed by UK judges.
Ministry of Justice sources told the Daily Express they are waiting for the Albanian government to send across dates for the first flight.
A source said they were “still working to pin down the dates” for the first criminals to be deported to Tirana under the agreement signed last year.
But claims emerging from Albania – after rumoured talks between the MoJ and Albanian minister Ulsi Manja – will prompt hope that foreign criminals will soon be deported.
An Albanian source said: “We have limited capacity in our prisons. But to show we are ready to fulfil our obligations to the UK we have agreed to receive 50 Albanians who have expressed a willingness to return.”
Criminals are expected to be deported by charter plane in cell-to-cell transfers.
The UK and Albania reached an initial agreement to remove Albanian offenders in July 2021.
Tory MP Lee Anderson said: “This is great news. We don’t want these people in our prisons and we don’t want these people in our country. They don’t play by our rules and should be sent back where they came from rather than being allowed to leech off the British taxpayer.”
Rishi Sunak has said that the “vast majority” of Albanian nationals arriving in the UK without visas will be sent back immediately under tough new government rules.
The move forms part of a five-point package to reform the handling of people arriving in Britain via small boats, including raising the burden of proof for those claiming to be victims of modern slavery.
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