The Home Office has announced its intention to remain a full member of Europol, an EU-wide law enforcement agency, until Britain’s formal exit from the union.
In one the first major opt-in/out decisions taken by Theresa May’s Government since the referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU, officials have decided to remain a member of the agency after warnings it ran the risk of losing access to vital intelligence.
The decision by the Home Office on Monday will now be subject to parliamentary scrutiny after which the European Commission will be notified of the Government’s intention.
Europol was created in 1998 and aims to bring together criminal intelligence to then share information between police and security forces across the EU member states.
Brandon Lewis, the minister for policing, said he had notified Parliament of the Government’s intention. He added: “The UK is leaving the EU but the reality of cross-border crime remains.
“Europol provides a valuable service to the UK and opting in would enable us to maintain our current access to that agency, until we leave the EU, helping keep the people of Britain safe. We now await the outcome of the scrutiny process.”
Rob Wainwright, the director of the EU law enforcement agency, posted on his Twitter account: “UK Government to ‘opt-in’ to new Europol regulation. Good for Britain’s security, great for police cooperation in Europe.”
He added: “Opt-in means UK will remain full member of Europol after revised regulations take effect May 2017 and until Brexit. Important decision.”
Nick Clegg, the former Deputy Prime Minister, has previously said that the decision on Europol is “hugely important”. He said: “If the Government elevates anti-European dogma above what has been proven to keep Britain safe, Theresa May will leave herself open to claims that she has gone soft on the fight against international terrorism and soft on the fight against organised crime.”
Last month one of Britain’s most senior policew officers said access to information in Europe-wide security databases, including Europol, was “mission critical” in fighting terrorism.
Helen Ball, the deputy assistant commissioner at the Metropolitan Police, also indicated that citizens in Europe would be at a greater threat from terrorism if Britain failed to work with its allies on the continent after Brexit.Reuse content