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Police Chiefs Strategise For a No-Deal Brexit

Police Chiefs Strategise For a No-Deal Brexit

Potential Implications of a No Deal Brexit

The National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) has said that it would be harder to protect UK and EU citizens in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union means that the UK will no longer necessarily have access to the support of EU agencies like Europol, which help to coordinate cross-border law enforcement. In addition, EU legal provisions which boost co-operation amongst member states on crime will no longer necessarily apply for the UK when the nation leaves the bloc next year.

Richard Martin, the Metropolitan Police deputy assistant commissioner in charge of Brexit planning for NPCC, underlined that law enforcement “have to prepare for every eventuality” until the full terms of Britain’s future relationship with the EU are settled.

A number of steps have already been taken to ensure that UK police are equipped to weather the potential policy effects of Brexit. In September, the government launched a new national police unit to address contingency plans for how Britain would handle crime prevention if it were excluded from EU agreements providing international support. The team of 50 officers has been granted £2m in funding from the Home Office to prepare a variety of alternative international crime strategies to ensure that British police are equipped to handle all potential EU withdrawal scenarios.

Extradition “longer and more complicated” without EU cooperation

NPCC chair Sara Thornton stated at a recent conference that losing membership to key EU agreements on criminal justice procedures would lead to a “slower and more bureaucratic” system.

The European Arrest Warrant (EAW) and Schengen Information System are both EU agreements to which Britain will lose its current access after the country leaves the EU next year. These agreements strengthen international crime prevention laws, making it easier for European countries and member states to collaborate in tackling cross-border crime.

The European Arrest Warrant (EAW), for example, legally obliges all EU member states to arrest and detain criminal suspects on behalf of other EU countries. Losing the EAW would mean that British police would instead rely on a 1957 extradition convention in order to have foreign criminals who commit crimes in the UK brought to justice.

As noted by Thornton at the police conference, being beholden to less up-to-date conventions would entail “longer and more complicated extradition processes,” which “don’t always apply in all countries.”

New police units to handle Brexit

In order to tackle these potential setbacks, the NPCC confirmed that its new £2m Brexit unit would consider a range of non-EU alternatives to bolster international crime prevention.

These alternatives include relying more heavily on Interpol and creating new bilateral channels of cooperation with individual EU countries. Currently, British police rely on EU mechanisms to share real-time alerts for wanted suspects with other European countries, map terrorist groups and other criminal networks across Europe, and quickly locate missing people.

In addition to making contingency strategies for the potential policy implications of Brexit, police chief constables have also agreed to set up a small, special unit to co-ordinate police response in the event of potential public disorder when the final Brexit arrangements are confirmed.

The unit was agreed upon as a precaution in order for law enforcement to “establish a realistic threat assessment”, despite “low expectation[s]” of any disorder beyond peaceful protest.

NPCC spokesperson Charlie Hall assured the public that there was “no intelligence to suggest that there will be an increase in crime or disorder as a result of a Brexit deal or no deal.”

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