Peers express deep concerns over inevitable impact on security and policing in event of no deal
The House of Lords EU Security and Justice Sub-Committee have today expressed continued concerns about the potential risks to public safety if the UK does not reach agreement with the EU on future security collaboration by the end of the transition period in 2020.
The Committee Chair Lord Ricketts has today written to Security Minister, Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP, to express Members' deep concern about the Government's plans to replace EU security and policing measures with ‘inadequate non-EU alternatives' that will put the public's safety at risk, in the event of no deal on policing and criminal justice cooperation.
“Serious consequences for UK law enforcement operations”
The Committee's letter cites evidence from Deputy Assistant Commissioner Richard Martin, the National Police Chiefs' Council's Lead for Brexit, given in February 2020 before a joint meeting of the Lords' Justice and Home Affairs Sub-Committees, which predicted serious consequences for UK law enforcement operations if the UK does not reach a deal with its EU partners by the end of the transition period in December.
DAC Martin's evidence highlighted the value of current EU cooperation, most powerfully the fact that in 2019, the UK police checked the Schengen Information System (SISII) “603 million times” and he warned that whatever deal the Government secures, “we want to make sure there is not a gap between what we have now and what we have in the future, because fast, real-time access to intelligence and data… is absolutely critical”.
That evidence contrasts with the confidence displayed by the Security Minister in front of the Committee and in his letter dated 26 June, where he stated that, in the absence of an agreement although there would be “some mutual loss of capability … the UK has well-developed and well-rehearsed plans in place to transition cooperation with EU Member States to alternative, non-EU arrangements …”
Lord Rickett's letter argues that the Government's position downplays the consequences of no-deal and it raises concerns about the adequacy of the planned measures to replace the current highly effective cooperation with the EU, for example on extradition and data sharing, as well as on policing in Northern Ireland.
Commenting on the Government's contingency plans Lord Ricketts, Committee Chair, said:
“Compelling evidence has been laid before the Committee and its predecessors about the significant consequences for law enforcement in the UK if there is no deal on policing and criminal justice cooperation. This stands in stark contrast to the Government's optimism that they have plans for non-EU alternatives that can substitute effectively for the exceptional levels of cooperation the British law enforcement and justice communities currently enjoy with their colleagues in EU countries.
“Without a deal, the loss of operational effectiveness for UK law enforcement agencies – including in Northern Ireland - will be profound, undermining modern intelligence led policing and putting the safety of the public at risk. We urge the Government to address these issues as a matter of urgency.”