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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  • rate this

    Comment number 130.

    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.

    So what's the argument against?

  • rate this

    Comment number 129.

    If, as some of you claim, there is bias against UKIP in BBC reporting news such as this then that is reprehensible. Even though I am a Labour voter, above all I support democracy, and the last thing we need is censorship of political parties we do not agree with. The way forward is to counter their views with well argued responses.

  • rate this

    Comment number 128.

    I would have a lot more confidence in all matters regarding efficiency within the EU (legal or otherwise) if they were at least able to complete one successful financial audit;

    "European Union STILL wasting billions every year as auditors refuse to sign off accounts for 18th year in a row... Court of Auditors refuses to give accounts a clean bill of health... again"

    Source - Daily Mail

  • rate this

    Comment number 127.

    Here we go.... postering for political gain!

    This country would be able to deal with crime if it wasn't for EU interference.... they're like static in a thunderstorm!

    But of course our MPs need to 'play the game' and call a sentance a sentence rather than letting them out 'scot free' to keep our jails from bursting at the seams.

    Don't blame the judges blame the politicians.

  • rate this

    Comment number 126.

    114 farkyss
    Tune in to what you would choose to avoid,assuming it also has intelligence & intellect attached to its programming,station,magazine periodical,use the internet to keep costs down,and go directly to the relevant country,no matter what your politics,religion may be,and over time develop a well informed personal opinion.

  • rate this

    Comment number 125.

    99. Collinwe

    I can appreciate false accusations, but those accused of rape who police know have done it but the case can't go through/ victim won't take it further, means the next time they do it (and they normally do) then they're profile is available with the whole history.

  • rate this

    Comment number 124.

    From 107. littleheathen:
    "More worrying nonsense from Ms May. The EU is the only thing moderating some of our more extreme politicians. (clear parallel with Hungary btw!)"

    On another page, comments wail about the lack of alternative leadership, where it is to come from. The answer they missed is 'Europe'. Whether we like it or not, there is no contender, so we'll have to make the best of it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 123.

    70. "just my feelings, England/UK isn't English anymore that's a fact...." Well, the word "English" comes from a word which meant "Angles" and geographically they were from an area which nowadays is somewhere in Germany... and even the Celts came here from somewhere else.

  • Comment number 122.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 121.

    Farage has not been quiet. He's on the local election campaign trail. Its only the BBC that is silencing him while only giving biased airtime to the Tories & Labour.
    How presumptuous of you to assume that I only rely on the BBC for news. That, or you just use my post for your anti-BBC agenda, which is just a laughable.

  • rate this

    Comment number 120.

    tabloid politics strike again :( combined with our opposition to the finance tax we are really starting to look backward compared to the rest of europe.
    it's never gonna be the 1950's again people need to start looking forward not back.

  • rate this

    Comment number 119.

    While many powers need to be returned to the UK (including sentencing and extradition), there needs to be closer policing ties including sharing of intelligence and joint operations.

  • rate this

    Comment number 118.

    Aren't really successful campaigns such as Operation Captura (which aims to arrest British criminals living in Spain) operating using European Arrest Warrants? So this Government wants to take something that's working really well and replace it. Figures.

  • rate this

    Comment number 117.

    I'm against being a member of the EU. That doesn't mean I oppose everything it suggests. This shouldn't be an either/or choice between doing everything the EU demands while paying ridiculous amounts of taxpayers' money into something most of them never asked for and don't fully understand, or rejecting absolutely all of its policies even when, like this one and banking regs, they're very sensible.

  • rate this

    Comment number 116.

    I have noticed how frequently the Lords seem to be in more contact with reality than the House of Commons, i.e. the elected Politicians only care about re-election and therefore follow populist arguments e.g. Teresa May (God save us!!), whereas the Lords discuss the real issues without the need to be re-elected - perhaps those who want the abolishment of the Lords should think more than twice!

  • rate this

    Comment number 115.

    What UK crime fighting? Police doesn't even have powers to fight noise disturbance, let alone proper crime! Drug dealers are operating freely, gangs stab innocents in public places (busses, train stations etc.) and the only thing police can do is have another workshop, create another think tank and offer the condolences to the victims (or their family's).

  • rate this

    Comment number 114.


    You have to throw your news sourcing a little wider than the BBC to stand any chance of finding out what is going on in the world.

  • rate this

    Comment number 113.

    Tory short term party political posturing always backfires and costs us dear in the long term.
    Time for the Tories to recognise that we are living in 2013 not an Enid Blyton 1950s. serious crime is cross border and international. We need to work together with like minded nations to protect us all.

  • rate this

    Comment number 112.

    Dear Theresa,I can see through your "cunning plan",as "Jimmy Choo Ltd"has branches (not Special Branch any more) or "Boutiques" located in New Bond St,Lancer Sq,& of course Sloane Sq,you don't need,want to keep travelling across the English Channel,I do quite understand & sympathise,you have my complete support in this matter of national security!!!!
    Ps Don't those ministerial red box's clash so!?

  • rate this

    Comment number 111.

    59.spam spam spam spam
    Good post, reminds me of some graffiti painted the length of a motorway bridge in Holland I used to read everyday on my journey to work.


    It stayed there for 15yrs that I know of!


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