Hundreds of foreign criminals, including killers and rapists, have dropped off the radar of the Home Office, figures reveal.
Clueless immigration authorities have also lost track of overseas nationals convicted of kidnap, weapons possession and robbery.
They had been living in the community while facing removal from the UK.
Figures show 450 foreign national offenders absconded in two-and-a-half years to the end of June.
Some were later located but the whereabouts of more than 200 were unknown up to two years after contact with officials ceased.
Tory MP Tim Loughton, of the Commons Home Affairs Committee, branded the findings horrifying.
He said: “These figures confirm a worrying trend that we are a soft touch when it comes to dealing with foreign national offenders. It is a mystery to me why we do not immediately deport these criminals. Innocent people could be at risk.”
If there is no immediate prospect of deportation or removal, convicted foreign nationals who have completed their sentence can be managed in the community.
They must report to officials and can be subject to bail conditions and electronic monitoring.
Shortcomings in arrangements for keeping track of foreign criminals were flagged up by the immigration watchdog last year.
Many absconders are traced overseas and can be prevented from returning to the UK, officials said.
The Home Office said: “We always seek to deport those who commit crimes and whose conduct poses a serious threat. We never give up trying to locate absconders.
“We have removed more than 44,500 foreign national offenders since 2010.”
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