KINGSTON, Jamaica — A British parliamentarian is livid that Jamaica refused his country’s £25-million offer to help fund construction of a new prison, allowing nearly 600 Jamaicans incarcerated in the UK to be returned to the island to complete their sentences.
UK news company, The Sun, today reported that Philip Hollobone, a Member of Parliament in the British Conservative Party, last night lashed out at the Jamaican government for their decision.
“The reaction from the Jamaican government is a complete disgrace,” Hollobone was quoted as saying.
“Their Ambassador should be called in and urgent arrangements should be made or some other solution to deport convicted Jamaican nationals who are taking prison places in our own jails.
“If they won’t accept them we should send the Jamaican government a bill for their annual incarceration,” he added.
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Senator Kamina Johnson Smith told the Senate in January that the Government had decided not to accept the offer made by then British Prime Minister David Cameron during his two-day working visit to Jamaica in September 2015.
She said her Administration did not believe that the terms of the offer would be beneficial to Jamaica as a whole.
The deal would have saved British taxpayers around £10 million a year after the prisoners, who cost around £30,000 annually, return to the island.
However, the Prime Minister Andrew Holness Administration maintained that the deal would be more beneficial to the UK than Jamaica.
Minister of National Security Robert Montague, after the rejection of the deal in January, told the Jamaica Observer that, “The cost of the facility is £40-plus million, the gift is £25 million. Jamaica and the taxpayers of Jamaica would have to find the rest. That would call for increased taxes on the already overburdened taxpayers.”
The Sun further reported that a British government spokesperson last night said: “We note and respect the decision of the Jamaican government.
“We will continue to work with them to deliver the return of Jamaican nationals from UK prisons to Jamaica and we remain committed to an excellent bilateral relationship across a range of issues, including security and prisoner transfers.”
Recent figures, according to The Sun, suggest there are almost 600 Jamaican prisoners in British jails with many convictions related to drugs and violence.
Meanwhile, Hollobone believes that a similar scheme to the one offered to Jamaica should be issued to other countries.
“The idea of spending foreign aid money in which we would return foreign national offenders is a good one and should be rolled out to other countries who have large numbers of foreign nationals in our prisons,” he was quoted by The Sun.