Brexit: UK will be less safe after leaving EU unless 'critical' security deals are kept, peers warn

'Without access to these vital EU tools or credible substitutes, we would be seriously harming the capability of our law enforcement agencies to fight crime and keep the public safe,' says Lords report

May Bulman
Friday 16 December 2016 01:03
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Report points to a 'real risk' that any replacement arrangements put in place when the UK leaves the EU will be 'sub-optimal' and 'leave the people of the UK less safe'
Report points to a 'real risk' that any replacement arrangements put in place when the UK leaves the EU will be 'sub-optimal' and 'leave the people of the UK less safe'

Britain will be less safe after leaving the EU unless “integral” EU security arrangements and law enforcement databases are retained or adequately replaced, a Lords report has warned.

Peers highlighted that arrangements currently in place to maintain security cooperation between the UK and other EU member states were “mission-critical” for Britain’s law enforcement agencies.

Senior figures in policing and counter-terrorism have highlighted the role played in the work by the European Arrest Warrant, the Second Generation Schengen Information System (SIS II), the European Criminal Records Information System (ECRIS) and Europol, the EU's law enforcement agency.

A report from the Lords EU Home Affairs Sub-Committee stated: “The arrangements currently in place to facilitate police and security cooperation between the United Kingdom and other members of the European Union are mission-critical for the UK's law enforcement agencies.”

The committee said its findings pointed to a “real risk” that any new arrangements put in place by way of replacement when the UK left the EU would be “sub-optimal relative to present arrangements, leaving the people of the United Kingdom less safe”.

Access to EU law enforcement databases and data-sharing platforms was “integral” to day to day policing up and down the country, according to the findings.

It warned that if the UK lost access to them on leaving the bloc, information that could currently be sourced in seconds or hours could take days or weeks to retrieve.

This would deliver an “abrupt shock” to UK policing and pose a risk to the safety of the public, the report warned.

The paper outlined that Britain and other EU member states shared a “strong mutual interest” in ensuring there was no reduction in the level of safety and security afforded to their citizens post-Brexit.

However peers cautioned against “assuming that because there is a shared interest in a positive outcome, negotiations will unfold smoothly”.

Baroness Prashar, chair of the committee, said: “Protecting the lives of its citizens is the first duty of government and should be the overriding consideration during Brexit negotiations.

"Without access to these vital EU tools or credible substitutes, we would be seriously harming the capability of our law enforcement agencies to fight crime and keep the public safe.

“Considering how instrumental the UK has been in shaping EU cooperation on police and security matters we hope the EU acknowledges the vital contribution we have and can continue to make.”

Policing Minister Brandon Lewis told the Press Association: “The UK is leaving the EU, but co-operation on law enforcement and security with our European and global allies remains a priority for the Government.

”We will do what is necessary to keep people safe and we are working, alongside policing and security partners, to explore options for co-operation arrangements once the UK has left the EU.“

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