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 330.

    318 Gyles

    "I like the EU. I like living in Britain. I like Britain in the EU"

    So do I ! We are obviously not Daily Mail readers

  • rate this

    Comment number 329.

    Brilliant At a time we will need good police connections with europe - now to include Bulgaria and Romania - we are backing away from cooperation.

    Inspired logic. Mainly inspired by public school morons responding to the Daily Mail agenda.

  • rate this

    Comment number 328.

    Have you noticed how this article, in which the comments are basic common sense (i.e, when the EU does something right, the UK should not opt out), has completely disappeared from the front page, the UK news page and the European news page of the BBC?

    Quite clearly, the BBC (and their owners) does not like articles on UK-EU relations in which the readers refuse to engage in anti-EU nonsense.

  • rate this

    Comment number 327.

    319. Prophaniti
    "The EU is good for the ordinary person.
    Tell that to the people of Greece.........."

    I don't have to.The majority of Greeks are in favour of the EU in spite of the euro crisis.

  • rate this

    Comment number 326.

    I thought the tories were meant to be the law and order party, but I suppose that appeasing the Euro sceptics is more important, surly anything that stops the police doing their jobs properly is against the interest of the honest man.

  • Comment number 325.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 324.

    Wouldn't law enforcement work together regardless? Wouldn't that be in everyone's best interest?

    The more things change, the more out-of-whack things seem to go!

  • rate this

    Comment number 323.

    It is time the majority woke up to this fact, the EU is good for the ordinary person.
    Although I find it slightly radical:

    Provides details of benefits EU Citizenship gives us of "RIGHTS".
    However these are limited by UK Statute since law comes through UK Government.

  • rate this

    Comment number 322.

    What the people of the UK want is a deciding vote on the issue, it is not up to MP's of any party to decide. MP's will want something that most of the UK will not.

    Lib/Con/Lab are all the same, none of them will opt out of the EU ever, just sabre rattling in order to get what they want.

    The British MP is the real danger to us in the UK. They will screw us over far more than the EU.

  • rate this

    Comment number 321.

    Look, when are the people in London who are supposed to be in charge of this damn country going to wake up.

    We cannot leave the Euro in parts, we have to either leave as a whole or stay in as a whole, cherry picking will result in the people of this country being taken advantage of in terms of work rights,earning potential, holidays, sick leave. Be careful not to believe everything MP's say.

  • rate this

    Comment number 320.

    Right Moses here are 10 Commandments.

    Thanks says Moses but can we skip Commandments 4 7 9 and 10 because it does not seem to fit us.
    or (in other words)

    IF we ARE in Europe, and have AGREED to bide by the RULES we should abide by them and keep that agreement made.
    Changing the rules as one country thinks fit is not being of European

    This wrangling makes UK look stupid!

  • rate this

    Comment number 319.

    298. squeezy
    This is the problem with the UK, the government just wants bits that suit them but often do not protect the ordinary Citizen. It is time the majority woke up to this fact, the EU is good for the ordinary person.

    Tell that to the people of Greece..........

  • rate this

    Comment number 318.

    I like the EU. I like living in Britain. I like Britain in the EU. I don't see any rational arguments against the EU, especially not the dictatorship conspiracy malarkey. The EU gives me even more freedom.

  • rate this

    Comment number 317.

    The biggest crime is that OUR OWN COURTS will not allow us to deport Qatada! An absolute disgrace, as is the BBC in not allowing us comment on that story. The Home Office should put him on the next plane to Jordan and ignore both the HRC and these stupid judges. There should also be an immediate investigation into the judges who continue to go against our safety but support extremists like him.

  • rate this

    Comment number 316.

    The great dictator has spoken and removed those comments it deems to be off topic.
    No wonder the EU funds it.
    They forget it is the ickle people with standing orders that are the real funders, but lets not let that get in the way of the law as envisaged by the controllers, whilst boosting advertising revenue.

  • rate this

    Comment number 315.

    Opting out of these Euro laws cant do us any more harm than what the European laws have already done to us. If it means that we can get rid of all the undesirables that are costing us a fortune to keep, because of European court rulings then I am all for the opt out, its not up to our courts to decide how another country up holds their laws, and nor is it Europe's.

  • Comment number 314.

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

  • Comment number 313.

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

  • Comment number 312.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 311.

    Opting out of the European Arrest Warrant would hand victory on a plate to organised crime. It will be harder for British police and victims to bring international criminals to justice, especially for cybercrime, crime perpetrators in the UK will avoid arrest by escaping abroad, and those perpetrating crime overseas will hide in the UK. This government needs to grow up, this is not a board game.


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