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 190.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 189.

    The European Arrest Warrant is a violation of our sovereignty.
    UK citizens should only be subject to arrest warrants from our courts.

    If a foreign court is recognised as competent by ours, and their warrant meets our more onerous standards, fine – issue the warrant on BEHALF of the appealing nation. But, do not subvert our legal principles in favour of foreign lax ones.

  • rate this

    Comment number 188.

    It's pretty obvious that 181 and 169 have no idea of what it is like to live in a European country. Where for example if Gran pops to the Super for a pint of milk without official proof of identity on her, the police can lock her up until they get that proof.If you want to live in another council area you must have permission from new and old to do so.Info used is your debts work crime etc history

  • Comment number 187.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 186.

    "...while the UK could theoretically make alternative arrangements with EU states, they would be legally more complicated, expensive and less effective, "

    Yep: we'd better do that then: something more complicated, expensive and less effective than something the EU can do has got to be pretty incerdible!

  • rate this

    Comment number 185.

    it 'Could' damage the UK.

    it 'Could' also help the UK.

  • rate this

    Comment number 184.

    The Bullingdon group seem to not comply with Europes laws, in the instances where the law would be a good idea.

  • rate this

    Comment number 183.

    Have the coalition any idea what crime is ?? the namby pamby approach to lenient sentences , the nonsense about record numbers of reoffending , deportation doesnt exist incase it upsets someone and the general disregard for public safety because they are more worried about the purse strings is beyond belief !!!! roll on 2015

  • rate this

    Comment number 182.

    Defunct measures doesn't mean they would necessarily be detrimental to the UK.In fact,nothing Ms May has said about the EU police & criminal justice measures suggests they would in any way hamper or impede the UK's ability to manage its own affairs.This is nothing more than Ms May demonstrating her anti-EU credentials in preparation for her own attempt at the leadership when DC throws the towel in

  • rate this

    Comment number 181.

    169.margaret howard
    Give me Europe any time
    Same here.

  • rate this

    Comment number 180.

    What is in it for the government? There must be something. They are not doing not for us, that's for sure.

  • rate this

    Comment number 179.

    169.margaret howard
    "Yes, European justice is great!"

    At least unlike America we have abolished the death sentence.
    Interesting. Instead of addressing the injustices of European law I cited, you chose to compare it to a country's legal system who is not even mentioned in this article.


  • rate this

    Comment number 178.

    We managed perfectly well without the bloated and profligate EU, let's stop paying them £52 million per day and manage our own affairs!

  • rate this

    Comment number 177.

    All this is assuming that all EU police forces and justice systems are on a level playing field. Unfortunately they are not. The further East and South you get the more corrupt it gets. The Uk is quite correct to stop the 130 measures and negotiate the ones best needed for the UK

  • rate this

    Comment number 176.

    WE should be out of the EU laws. The European Arrest Warrant is a farce for anyone tied up in it. Most EU countries' laws and policing are very poor. Look at the Maddie McCann case the Portuguese made a right mess of that and now we find the French have made a mess of the shooting in the Alps. Like the rest of the EU their laws are a complete mess.

  • rate this

    Comment number 175.

    The major difference between our current government and the governments of the EU is that whilst Europe seeks to advance & move forward meeting the challenges of the 21C our own shower are obsessed with reintroducing archaic elitist structures and pursuing arcane economic chimeras. They do not have the interests of the voter at heart they merely want their own way in this Friedmanesque nightmare.

  • rate this

    Comment number 174.

    Abu Qatada

    Steady on! The pro-'uman rights brigade are watching. They believe we should pay 10's of mi££ions in benefits, legal aid to protect his 'umna rights while he wants to kill you and your children.

  • rate this

    Comment number 173.

    May wants to opt out of one of the few things that makes Europe more efficient, while blindly signing up the whole raft of daft rules and regulations which hamstrings our international competitiveness. She's probably terrified that one day it may be possible for a German judge to sign Abu Qatada's deportation warrant.

  • rate this

    Comment number 172.

    It's a dilemma. Like commerce, crime is being globalised, specially with urban warfare and criminals able to roam freely around and beyond europe until caught. So we have to be careful we don't isolate ourselves and, in spite of written agreements, get the cold shoulder when we do need help.

  • rate this

    Comment number 171.

    Why are you comparing USA's "justice"?
    We're English common law, not European technocratic law.
    *Don't be so unkind to our brothers across the pond. 17 states have abolished it.

    "Give me Europe any time"
    Bon voyage :)


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