Opposition: Eastern Europeans should serve sentences at home

Opposition parties want to financially support eastern European countries to keep their own criminals

Romania, Poland and Lithuania are among a few countries in east Europe that could end up receiving financial bonuses for ensuring that their own fugitives don’t wander into the Danish countryside.

Opposition parties Venstre (V), Konservative (K) and Dansk Folkeparti (DF) are willing to help fund new prison wings or rehabilitation programmes in eastern European countries in order to keep foreign criminals out of Denmark.

Prison space in Denmark costs 1,900 kroner a day, and the parties suggest that this cost could be spared if some of that money were to be directly wired to the countries in question.

“Denmark spends almost a quarter of a million kroner on incarcerating criminals who could just as well be convicted and held in their own countries," Karsten Lauritzen, a spokesperson for V, said. "Danes are paying the price for some foreign criminals, and we don’t owe them anything.”

There are currently 1,100 foreigners serving sentences in Danish prisons. While many of these criminals are still awaiting trial, 420 have been convicted and could therefore serve out their sentences in their own countries.

The annual costs of accommodating those 420 criminals is estimated at just under 230 million kroner, while the parties argue that a mere 64 million kroner would suffice to keep these criminals at bay, in their own countries.

Under current EU regulation, eight countries in eastern Europe have agreed to take back any offenders who have over six months left of their prison sentence. However, with the inclusion of financial help, Denmark could also be able to expel foreign criminals with shorter sentences.

“They don’t have a care in the world if they're convicted in this country, because they’re much better off in a Danish prison than wherever they’re coming from,” Tom Behnke, a K spokesperson, said.

DF's Peter Skaarup added that “many of these east Europeans see it was a holiday to get into a Danish prison.”

The proposal is expected to be considered by the government in the next round of negotiations regarding probation funding.

However, Ole Hækkerup, a representative for Socialdemokraterne, was sceptical about the opposition's proposal.

“You shouldn’t presume that a quick pay-off will solve anything," he said. "These sort of things take time before they’re properly established.”