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 150.

    We do not want foreign governments picking up anyone they fancy via EU warrants. There has always been co-operation by police forces as and when needed, there is no case for others to have powers or rights in our land. DNA fingerprinting should not even be permitted let alone open to the EU. There is no case for any of these diktats to exist we are not one country, roll back the EU Empire.

  • rate this

    Comment number 149.

    "The most important and powerful of the measures is the European Arrest Warrant." Yes, yes, yes, brrrrrrrrrrrrrrr how those criminals must shake in their beds worrying about it.

    Just look at how it dealt with your mate Julian Assange. He felt the lofty weight of the sword of European Justice, didn't he....Oh no, actually he made a mockery of it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 148.

    "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."
    I think the more likely event, as the EU has demonstrated, is that the EU is more likely to attempt to commit a crime against you. Logical?

  • rate this

    Comment number 147.

    Post 139. I just wish the politicos would make their minds up on what they think is best for us.

    There lies the problem the politicians do not make decisions that are best for us,only decisions which are best for their paymasters.

  • rate this

    Comment number 146.

    Stop tinkering about and give the public the chance to say yes or no to the EU rather than Cameron's ham fisted attempt at appeasing Tories who may vote UKIP. Dithering about leaves us looking like spoilt brats rather than a country with a direction, Poor leadership is the name of the game with the Coalition.

  • rate this

    Comment number 145.

    Of course many in high places here are perhaps getting worried, that they might just be arrested under an EU warrant and an enlarged scope of EU law one day.

    No one here seems to do much about them, and I for one would be only too pleased if someone finally did.

    I'm sure folks know the types I mean.

  • rate this

    Comment number 144.

    short-sighted - insular - simplistic - provincial - imperceptive - unthinking - narrow-minded - bigoted - prejudiced - parochial - illiberal - uninformed - sectarian - feckless - selfish - unreasoning - blundering... Conservative!


  • Comment number 143.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 142.

    Another example where this government just acts blindly out of ideology and not out of practicality. This is a bad policy. It's called "throwing the baby out with the bath water". Perhaps, the UK should move to planet UK, if it does not want to be part of this world. Criminals and terrorists however know how to gain from uncooperative neighbouring countries. Should we just let them?

  • Comment number 141.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 140.

    By all means keep the EAW, but try the UK suspect in a UK Court, with the requesting country providing all their evidence to a UK Barrister. (Same should apply to US requests.)This would mean all flawed requests would be defeated, and fairly - e.g. the bloke whom the Italians tried but was at home in the Midlands when the crime he was accused of was committed!

  • rate this

    Comment number 139.

    One comment section open on more integration, another on independence I just wish the politicos would make their minds up on what they think is best for us.

  • rate this

    Comment number 138.

    "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."

    Does anyone seriously think this is sustainable? On every issue?

  • rate this

    Comment number 137.

    @123 "and even the Celts came here from somewhere else."

    Yes they did. Upper Austria and Germany.

  • rate this

    Comment number 136.

    If we opt out of much more we surely won't be in at all? The sense in joining a club only to seek to be exempted from all of its rules is lost on me. Why don't we just have a referendum and go wholly in or come wholly out of the EU?

  • rate this

    Comment number 135.

    Why does everyone think if its about the police and fighting crime it must be good. if you look at the overall package and how it ties into everything else it quickly becomes obvious this is about tying the uk tightly into a european state from which there is no escape.

  • rate this

    Comment number 134.

    I am sure the young man who lost several of the best years of his life to the dodgy Greek justice system would appreciate the loss of the EAW.

  • rate this

    Comment number 133.

    Re 107

    To believe that the EU moderates politicians is incorrect. It is the anti democratic and elitist policies emanating from Brussels that is driving the southern European countries towards economic collapse and then undemocratic regimes. The EU is a disaster for the peoples of Europe and the sooner we leave and it collapses the better

  • rate this

    Comment number 132.

    Lets have that EU referendum please. Why should we even care about the EU's crime powers when the EU is preventing us from deporting terrorists to Jordan in case his 'human rights' are in danger. Its high time we stopped being dictated too by the unelected EU.

  • rate this

    Comment number 131.

    Strange that we all seem to be pro-europe today.
    From what I have seen of Greek, and French riot controls the European rules on police behaviour would give our papers and lawyers a field day.
    No real detail given on why the Gov are worried about the EU 130 take it or leave it package, or would that be balanced reporting.
    Lets just say they are loony right wingers stirring this up for fun.


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