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'Conservatives are no longer the party of Law and Order" say Lib Dems as Government ditches EAW

February 29, 2020 5:00 PM


Gary Kitching (East Suffolk Lib Dems)'Criminals do not have borders' says Gary Kitching, Lib Dem Police & Crime spokesperson

Britain will not be participating in a European scheme to fast-track the extradition of criminals following its departure from the European Union, the government said in its mandate for negotiations published by the government on Thursday. Senior law enforcement officials have warned Boris Johnson's government against leaving the European Arrest Warrant.

Acting against the warnings of senior law enforcement officials, the government said it would not be seeking to participate in the European arrest warrant (EAW) as part of the future relationship with the European Union. The director general and deputy director general of the National Crime Agency, (NCA) Lynne Owens said they asked ministers to protect Britain's arrangements with Europe, including use of the European arrest warrant and membership of Europol, amid concerns about the impact of leaving the union.

The government said: "The agreement should instead provide for fast-track extradition arrangements, based on the EU's surrender agreement with Norway and Iceland which came into force in 2019, but with appropriate further safeguards for individuals beyond those in the European arrest warrant."

The European Arrest Warrant was introduced in 2004 and replaced lengthy extradition processes between EU countries. It means a warrant issued by one EU country's judicial authority to arrest a person and surrender them for prosecution is valid throughout the EU. Britain has used the European Arrest Warrant system thousands of times since its creation.

When Britain left the EU on 31 January, three EU countries - Germany, Austria and Slovenia - announced they would stop surrendering their nationals to British law enforcement. Since 2009, there have been six people from those countries extradited to the UK. Conversely it could mean the UK becomes a safe haven for EU criminals. Germany, have a constitutional bar against extraditing their nationals to non-EU countries

Under the current arrangements, police forces, prosecutors and the NCA can apply for an EAW to effect a fast extradition of a criminal suspect from any EU member state, and likewise EU countries can apply to the UK to return fugitives. The European Commission has previously claimed that average extradition times have been reduced from one year to less than two months through the use of the EAW.

From 2009/2010 to 2017/2018, the UK returned 9,853 EU nationals to their home states to face justice, and brought back 1,271 Britons over the same period.

Suffolk Lib Dem Police and Crime spokesperson Gary Kitching said, "criminals do not have borders and the ditching of the EU arrest warrant, added to its drug policy failure and the Home Secretary admitting that they got it wrong in cutting police numbers are now holding the police to account for digging them out of the mess they have created. Clearly the Conservatives are no longer the party of Law and Order". policing

Sources: LONDON (Reuters)

Guardian Thu 27 Feb 2020 Jamie Grierson , Jennifer Rankin and Lisa O'Carroll