Cameron take note: international police work is no place for Eurosceptic grandstanding

The director of the Police Foundation think tank on why opting out of EU policing measures could have dire consequences for British law and order

Related Topics

The Prime Minister is expected to make a speech on the EU referendum today, in which he will among other things, set out his views on the UK opting out of approximately 130 EU policing and criminal justice measures. In our submission  to the House of Lords Select Committee on the EU, the Police Foundation drew attention to the serious risks to the public of opting out of some of these measures, in particular the European Arrest Warrant, the European Supervision Order, the European Criminal Records Information System (ECRIS), Europol and Eurojust. This view has been almost unanimously echoed by other criminal justice and public safety organisations, including the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO). Opting out of these measures would constitute an act of political grandstanding that contradicts the Government’s own policies to cut costs, support victims, bring offenders to justice and protect the British public from harm.

The Government’s National Security Strategy sets out, “a commitment to collective security via a rules-based international system…including our vital partnership with the EU”. It prioritises four high level threats to the UK of which two - international terrorism and serious organised crime - would be directly undermined by opting out. Even if we were able to successfully opt back into those measures that protected our country from these global threats, the UK would be placed at risk for the period during which negotiations for opting back in were taking place – and this is likely to amount to years rather than months. Furthermore, it would dislodge our place as the leaders in Europe in the fight against terrorism. It is difficult to see how this can be in our nation’s best interest.    

The Government’s Strategy for tackling serious organised crime, ‘Local to Global’, also emphasises the importance of ensuring operational cooperation on internal security within the European Union. By opting out the UK will find it significantly more difficult to identify and extradite serious criminals and could potentially become a safe haven for fugitives from justice and members of cross-border organised crime networks. The recent Scott Baker review of Britain’s extradition arrangements, commissioned by the Home Office, found that although the European Arrest Warrant had its flaws, which the Review recognised the EU was attempting to remedy, it has improved the scheme of surrender between member states.

In response to the criticism that by opting out the Government would be placing the British public at risk, it is rightly explained that the UK could negotiate with other EU member states to opt back into selected measures. But as well as placing the country at risk during such negotiations, there is every possibility that one or more member states will attach potentially onerous (or even unacceptable) conditions to opting back in. Furthermore, our negotiating stock will fall further – it already appears to be at an all-time low – and our potential to influence Treaty amendments will be hamstrung. It is even possible that opting back in will be refused altogether. Membership of Frontex, the EU’s border agency, was blocked by member states, as was membership of VIS, a common database of visa records. As the Centre for European Reform has pointed out, why should member states now acquiesce to British cherry-picking in policing and justice?

We live in a world where crime, especially serious organised crime and terrorism, is global in reach and impact. International cooperation in tackling it is widely accepted as essential. The standard of cross-border policing in Europe has been greatly improved because of the UK’s efforts and expertise as well as funding – the UK has invested £39m in setting up the European Criminal records Information System alone – so the decision to opt out should not be taken unless a conclusive case is made that clearly demonstrates the benefits to the public of disinvesting in cross-border collaboration.  

At what point is someone going to say that the risk of being prevented from opting back in to those measures which are crucial to the nation’s security is simply too great. At the very least, diplomatic assurances that the UK will be able to swiftly opt back in to such measures should be secured from all member states prior to opting out. Failure to do so would be tantamount to gross negligence.     

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (B2B) - Romford - £40,000 + car

£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...

Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Day In a Page

Read Next
David Blunkett joins the Labour candidate for Redcar Anna Turley on a campaigning visit last month  

General Election 2015: Politics is the messy art of compromise, unpopular as it may be

David Blunkett
File: David Cameron offers a toast during a State Dinner in his honour March 14, 2012  

Vote Tory and you’re voting for the rich to get richer and the poor to get poorer

Mark Steel
General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'