In this Part 2, the focus is on policing, and what the U.K. is set to lose, unless new arrangements replace existing ones, which are due to come to an end after 29th March, 2019, if there is no deal or at the end of the transition period at end 2020. Here are some of the most important tools currently available to U.K. policing and at risk
- The European Arrest Warrant (EAW) was introduced in the UK in 2004 replacing previous separate extradition arrangements between the UK and EU Countries and operates on an EU-wide basis.. The. U.K. Prime Minister has regularly claimed that the EAW helped to “keep the country safe.” Whilst there is a disparity in numbers, the EAW has still been a success. In total, there have been over 12,000 EAW arrests in the UK since April 2009, while only approximately 1,000 people have been surrendered by other EU Member States to the U.K.
- Europol is the pan EU police body, which supports police forces across the UK and Europe. The U.K. currently participates in all thirteen of Europol’s priority projects. Membership of Europol enables the U.K. to seek cooperation in cross-border investigations for example into cyber crime, human trafficking and terrorism and the U.K. is one of the biggest contributors to Europol systems.
- Membership of the Schengen Information System known as SIS II allows access to passport data transferred between countries, helping security forces track criminals or persons of interest. From April 2015 to April 2016, over 6,400 foreign alerts under the Schengen Information System II received hits in the UK, allowing UK enforcement agencies to take appropriate action, whilst over 6,600 UK-issued alerts received hits across Europe.
- The EU Passenger Name Records rules, require EU Countries to collect passenger information and provides access to members making it more difficult for organised criminals and terrorists to hide their movements.
- The European Criminal Records Information System (ECRIS), which is an EU database that holds information on overseas criminal convictions. The U.K. is a leading user of this data and for example in 2015/16 was the mechanism by which the UK made the majority of its 155,000 requests to EU Member States for information on overseas criminal convictions
According to Britain’s most senior Police Officer, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick, “a no-deal Brexit could be financially costly and put the public at risk” and would mean having to replace certain structures, such as access to databases and agreements on arrest and extradition, which could threaten the police’s crime-fighting capability. It is this real concern that has led the U.K. government to establish a unit looking at how to mitigate the impact of a no deal Brexit, and to be ready with the best alternatives in case of a no deal.
According to the statements made by the UK’s National Crime Agency, even a renegotiated deal on co operation from the EU post Brexit, is likely to be insufficient. The NCA has stated that once outside the EU, the U.K. is likely to be treated no better than existing trusted third Countries such as the US, Australia, Canada, Norway & Switzerland, that have for example both strategic and operational status with Europol. Even this though would not be enough to enable the U.K. to retain access to the European Information System (EIS), which pools information on suspected and convicted criminals and terrorists across the EU, and to which the UK is the second largest contributor.
Absent any agreement, this would result in all NCA inquires having to be made on a law enforcement to law enforcement basis through liaison officers, which is an extremely inefficient and cumbersome process when compared to the direct access to the EIS database currently enjoyed.
The position of the UK Government as set out in a Feb 2017 White Paper, is to seek to retain a close working relationship with EU agencies, with the UK wanting to “continue to work with the EU to preserve UK and European security and to fight terrorism.” Owing to its preexisting security relationship with the EU, the UK is “uniquely placed to develop and sustain a mutually beneficial model of cooperation in this area,” and the UK hoped to “encourage joint working across the continent to protect citizens and our way of life.”