EU crime optouts 'could damage UK crime fighting'

Police under an EU flag The government will make its decision by May 2014

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Government plans to opt out of 130 European Union police and criminal justice measures could weaken the UK's ability to fight crime, peers say.

The House of Lords EU committee said ministers failed to make "a convincing case" for repatriating the powers.

Home Secretary Theresa May says some of the joint measures are defunct .

Opting out would include leaving the European Arrest Warrant, which is used to speed up the extradition of criminal suspects between member states.

Ministers must decide by the end of May 2014 whether the UK should completely accept or reject 130 joint arrangements.

Ministers say they want to opt out of the package because the UK does not need to be bound by them - but then negotiate to rejoin individual measures where it is in the national interest to do so.

The most important and powerful of the measures is the European Arrest Warrant.

Other measures that could be ditched include arrangements to speed up sharing suspects' DNA profiles and fingerprints and joint working in specific areas such as terrorism, human trafficking or football hooliganism.

The peers said that while the UK could theoretically make alternative arrangements with EU states, they would be legally more complicated, expensive and less effective, thereby weakening the hand of British police.

'Negative repercussions'

The committee said: "In light of the evidence we have received, we conclude that the government have not made a convincing case for exercising the opt-out and that opting out would have significant adverse negative repercussions for the internal security of the UK and the administration of criminal justice in the UK, as well as reducing its influence over this area of EU policy."

Joint EU measures include:

  • European Arrest Warrant
  • DNA profiles and fingerprint checks
  • Joint working on specific cross-border crimes
  • Possible EU-wide driving ban arrangements
  • Measures to combat identity fraud and illegal immigration

Committee member Lord Hannay said: "Cross-border co-operation on policing and criminal justice matters is an essential element in tackling security threats such as terrorism and organised crime in the 21st Century and we need to ensure that the UK police and law enforcement agencies continue to have the tools they need to increase these increasing threats."

Mrs May told MPs last October that the government did not need to be bound by the measures because while some were useful, others were entirely defunct.

The committee said they had asked ministers for a list of the defunct measures, but so far had only been given three.

A Home Office spokesman said: "Discussions about which measures we may seek to opt back in to are ongoing but we have made it very clear that any decision will be guided by what is in our national interest.

"We have made a commitment to a vote in both Houses of Parliament before we take a final decision to opt out. That vote will take place in good time before May 2014."

But shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper accused Theresa May of a "shameful dereliction" of her duty in an attempt to appease Conservative Eurosceptics.

Ms Cooper said: "At a time when cross-border crime is a growing problem and cross-border security threats remain significant, it is completely irresponsible for Theresa May to be making it harder for the police to co-operate with forces abroad."

Liberal Democrat cabinet minister Danny Alexander said: "I am are clear that any final package will have to ensure the UK's continued participation in all the key measures which are important for public safety."

He said these included the European Arrest Warrant and Europol, the EU's law enforcement agency.


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  • Comment number 110.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 109.

    Surely coming out of any arrangement that helps detect crime and bring criminals to justice is bonkers.

    We have open borders for migration, commerce and travel within Europe, but not crime the that comes with it.....

  • rate this

    Comment number 108.

    It would not surprise me to learn that the EU wanted to extradite some british bankers in the future, so this is a logical move for May.

  • rate this

    Comment number 107.

    More worrying nonsense from Ms May. The EU is the only thing moderating some of our more extreme politicians. (clear parallel with Hungary btw!)

  • rate this

    Comment number 106.

    69. fed up
    Does it make any difference what laws are in place when

    Foreigners take no notice of the laws


    All foreigners? Or just the criminals... lol

    81. chriswiltshire

    Do you think they'll send their UK prisoners back to us?

  • rate this

    Comment number 105.

    "If Theresa May thinks this is a good idea then the opposite is probably the better and right thing to do."

    I agree. Theresa May thinks giving tax payer money to ISPs so they can keep customer browsing data for longer is a good idea. As a rule, I think we should disregard anything that woman has to say about justice or policing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 104.

    MPs posturing to look like they have some real power. It all comes down to 3 power groups: cops, media and politicians. The media gave poltiticians a good kicking with the MPs expenses scandal. Then Plebgate and Operation Yewtree showed them all that cops are the only ones with real power in the UK. MPs trying to kick the EU need to get a life.

  • rate this

    Comment number 103.

    This is designed by the Tories to win back UKIP voters. Farage has been awfully quiet of late. A good or a bad sign?

  • rate this

    Comment number 102.

    It's time for us to run our own country again. The EEC was and is a brilliant concept and having a 'trade currency would be easy, but having our laws overrulled by the EU is wrong. Our governments, especially Labour, seemed to put other peoples' interests before ours. Bring back UK law and kick out the criminals!

  • rate this

    Comment number 101.

    I agree with all the doubts expressed on the EU, but am still puzzled how depriving the British police of important information, as well as making extradition of criminals even harder.
    Knowing tories in general, and this govt in particular, I suspect their overall plan is to move the conduit of police information from a publicly accountable process to a privately owned and legally opaque method.

  • rate this

    Comment number 100.

    Opting out would have no net impact on our security and would ensure that we could conform to our own laws, and not be forced to conform to those imposed on us from outside. This does not block co-operation with the EU, nor does it weaken any form of security. Any statement to the contrary does not have it's foundation in fact and is purely pro-EU propoganda

  • rate this

    Comment number 99.

    80. Wheelchairdependent
    the European courts prevented collection and storage of DNA samples from unconvicted ....

    Well done to the EU courts. the clues in the word, unconvicted aka innocent. If we want a national DNA data base lets have one, but you can't keep the DNA of people wrongly/falsely accused. I'm a teacher, some of my colleagues are on this data base because of false allegations.

  • rate this

    Comment number 98.

    If Theresa May thinks this is a good idea then the opposite is probably the better and right thing to do.

  • rate this

    Comment number 97.

    From 70. Frank:
    "As an Englishman I feel that anyone who supports Europe having any control over England is traitorous, just my feelings, England/UK isn't English anymore that's a fact...."

    What about Angles, Saxons and Jutes and all..? The traitors are those who claim to act in our interests while shuttling wealth abroad hand over fist. I'm no royalist, but at least they have to live here. :)

  • rate this

    Comment number 96.

    We get persecuted a lot more being an immigrant from outside the EU, yet from what I can see the EU is not quiet the cream you had hoped for?

    Sometimes I wonder who makes these decision and I don't even know why I am here.

    Simple formula open the doors from outside EU, close the doors to EU, answer = booming economy through investment. I am doing a PhD on this

  • rate this

    Comment number 95.

    71. JP
    The EU is used by politicians in the UK who seek to abdicate responsibility for the power invested in them.
    It is carefully constructed 'blame' game. The eu politicos blame the uk ones and vice versa, the uk ones blame each other, the local ones blame the national ones and we watch on opened mouthed as the ball flies back and forth over the net.

  • rate this

    Comment number 94.

    What a clever ruse to get the UK to work even more closely - read integrate - with the EU. Our Intelligence Services and Police showed how well they handled security - and the threat of terrorist activity - during the 2012 Olympics and the London Marathon.

  • rate this

    Comment number 93.

    The only piece of legislation that is needed is the duty to repatriate criminals back to their country of origin. The rest can be left in place. We would get the tow rags back from Spain but we could get rid of a lot of dross from elsewhere & hugely reduce the prison population. It should apply outside the EU as well.

  • rate this

    Comment number 92.

    Why would you abolish our developed, sophisticated, common law principles in favour of a prejudicial and bias foreign laws? Eg: In foreign Sweden, investigating officers can be judicial officers. The conflict of interests cannot be more stark, which Sweden seeks to exploit to arrest people on our soil.

  • Comment number 91.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.


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