Press Releases

PRESS RELEASE : UK and Albania agree groundbreaking new arrangement on prisoner transfers [May 2023]

The press release issued by the Ministry of Justice on 24 May 2023.

Hundreds of Albanian prisoners to be returned to their home country in exchange for UK support to help modernise the Albanian prison system.

  • 200 Albanian prisoners will be sent home to serve remainder of jail sentences
  • arrangement saves taxpayers’ money while improving Albanian prison system
  • part of long-term partnership agreed between UK and Albanian Prime Ministers

The UK and Albanian governments have agreed a ground-breaking arrangement that will see hundreds of Albanian prisoners returned to their home country in exchange for UK support to help modernise the Albanian prison system.

Under the new arrangement 200 Albanian nationals in prisons in England and Wales serving sentences of 4 years or more will be sent back to see out the remainder of their terms in Albanian prisons while helping to modernise prisons in Albania.

Today’s (24 May 2023) deal builds on the Joint Communiqué signed by the British and Albanian Prime Ministers in December 2022 and the discussions they held in London in March 2023.

Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary, Alex Chalk MP KC, said:

I am grateful to my Albanian counterpart, HE Mr Ulsi Manja, for his efforts to shape our growing partnership on justice issues. The public expects that foreign criminals should serve their sentences overseas – not in our prisons at the expense of the taxpayer.

This deal will speed up the removal of these offenders and give victims confidence that serious criminals will continue to face justice and spend the remainder of their sentence behind bars. Collaboration with our international partners is an essential part of making this possible.

Ulsi Manja, Albanian Minister of Justice, said:

This new arrangement demonstrates the strong partnership between the UK and Albanian governments. Two years after the agreement for the transfer of prisoners from the United Kingdom to Albania was ratified, we have concluded a technical arrangement that will benefit both countries.

At its core, every Albanian convict in the United Kingdom shall be given the opportunity to serve the remaining sentence in Albania, near their families, while we also increase our efforts to ensure the modernisation of the Albanian penitentiary system.

Through the agreement, the UK government will provide support modernising and expanding the Albanian prison system, to make sure they have the capacity to hold these prisoners. These improvements will also speed up future transfers.

The deal builds on an earlier agreement and means that offenders must spend at least the same amount of time in custody as they were sentenced to by a judge in the UK. They are also barred from returning to the UK.

It will also free up prison capacity in England and Wales by speeding up the removal of foreign offenders. Between 27 April 2021 and 27 April 2023, the government repatriated 112 sentenced foreign offenders under Prisoner Transfer Agreements. Today’s deal will double the number removed annually.

Notes to editors

  • It currently costs nearly £40,000 a year to house each prisoner in England and Wales.
  • The total cost of the deal for the MOJ is expected to be in the region of £8 million over 2 years, equating to £32 per prisoner per day, compared to £109 per day to house them in prisons in England and Wales. Home Office funding of around £4.4 million will also support the arrangement.
  • MoJ funding will be paid per prisoner transferred – not up front.
  • At 31 March 2023, there were 1,393 Albanian Foreign National Offenders  in prisons in England and Wales. Source: Offender Management Statistics Quarterly, 27 April 2023, table 1.7
  • The deal builds on the prisoner transfer agreement signed between the UK and Albania in 2021, which came into force in May 2022. This implementation package will ensure Albania has the right processes and prison capacity in place, meaning transfers can now proceed at pace.
  • In the past 3 years 10,000 foreign offenders from around the world have been deported from the United Kingdom to their home country. The majority have been deported via other schemes, such as the Early Removal Scheme, which allows offenders to be deported before the conclusion of their prison sentences. This Prisoner Transfer Agreement means prisoners still serving long sentences can be removed and serve the remainder abroad.