The Home Secretary has announced that the Government is considering whether to pull out of existing European police and justice co-operation measures. In response, Pru Jupe has challenged local Conservatives to back measures that local police and prosecutors use to help catch criminals who flee overseas, tackle international crime and kick out foreign criminals from the UK.
Under the terms of the Lisbon Treaty, the UK can decide to opt out of all existing European measures for police and justice cooperation, and may choose to then try to negotiate to rejoin specific measures.
102 Conservative MPs want the Government to withdraw from all European policing and justice measures. But 13 former UK police chiefs recently wrote to the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister warning that pulling out of many of the measures would put public safety at risk.
These measures have been hugely successful in recent years in breaking up paedophile rings, preventing terrorism and bringing criminals who flee across borders to swift justice.
Commenting, Pru Jupe said:
“The Conservatives must choose what is more important: their dislike of all things European or keeping people in Cumbria safe?
“Some measures are old. Some are important but need further reform, like the European Arrest Warrant. But the police say that many are essential for our national security, public safety and leadership in fighting crime and terrorism.
“These key international policing measures are used by our police to break up paedophile rings, catch criminals hiding on the Costa del Crime, arrest terrorists and deport dangerous foreign criminals from our streets.
“Some Conservatives seem so blinded by an ideological hatred for European cooperation that they would sacrifice the safety of the British public and the rights of victims for it.
“We must put policing before politics. When crime crosses borders, justice must too.”
National & Local Successes/ Cases:
• Operation Golf, a joint investigation between the Met, Europol and Romania, which broke up a pan-EU organised child trafficking network. 121 individuals across Europe were arrested and 181 children were freed.
• Operation Rescue, where the Met teamed up with Europol to coordinate a 30-country investigation, cracking open the world’s largest online paedophile network. Over 184 arrests were made, and 230 sexually exploited children were released, including 60 in the UK.
• The EU-wide search for Hussein Osman, one of the failed 21/7 London bombers, who was tracked down and arrested in Italy and brought back to the UK using the Arrest Warrant to face trial within a matter of days.
• Jeremy Forrester, the teacher wanted for child abduction, was arrested in France under a European Arrest Warrant and brought back to the UK with days.
• The murder of the British family in Annecy in France is being investigated through a ‘joint investigation’ between British police, French police and Eurojust.
• An EU wide hunt is on for a former priest wanted for multiple child sex offences thanks to a UK-issued European Arrest Warrant.
Under the Lisbon Treaty, the British Government must decide by 1st July 2014 at the very latest whether the UK will remain part of all existing pre-Lisbon EU legislation in the field of police and judicial cooperation after 2015. The Government has promised a vote in both Houses of Parliament on the matter.
In August 2012, 13 senior former UK police chiefs wrote to the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister warning them against pulling out of these measures (see letter attached).
In October, the three law societies and the UK’s Bar Council issued statement warning that pulling out of many of these measures risked damaging the UK’s fight against crime, see here and here.
The threat from serious and organised international crime and terrorism is growing. Today, these cross-border crime and security threats are recognised as one of the top threats facing the UK by the Government in the 2010 National Security Strategy and in the Government’s 2011 Organised Crime Strategy. The Home Office estimates that organised crime costs the UK up to £40bn a year (£1,700 per household), involves 8,000 criminal gangs and nearly 40,000 gangsters. And advances in travel, the internet and freedom of movement mean that the opportunities for serious criminals, whether rapists, murderers or child sex offenders, to escape British justice by fleeing and hiding abroad are huge.
Over the last 15 years, international police, counter-terrorism and justice co-operation across borders has evolved into a highly effective and mainstreamed tool kit that enable our law enforcement authorities to crack down on serious and organised crime and terrorism. Today, British law enforcement authorities use and rely on these tools on a daily basis to keep the public safe. The European Arrest Warrant has been used to extradite over 4,000 dangerous foreign criminals from our streets to face justice abroad, and bring back over 700 of the UK’s most wanted serious crimes back to face British justice here. They share information, intelligence and best practice with their European counterparts on a daily basis through a highly developed set of EU cross-border police and judicial networks, databases and via EU agencies such as Europol and Eurojust. And they use EU measures to work increasingly closely with other national forces and European agencies whether it is on joint operations, criminal intelligence analysis or complex cross-border prosecutions.
YouGov polling released in July 2012 shows that 77% of the British public fully support European cooperation on counter-terrorism, policing and border security. A tiny 9% of the public think the UK shouldn’t cooperate with Europe on these threats at all. See page 29 here: http://www.chathamhouse.org/sites/default/files/public/Research/Europe/0712ch_yougov_survey_0.pdf
Today, there are literally hundreds of UK success stories using this European legislation both to combat organised criminal activity involving online paedophilia, human trafficking, drug smuggling, cybercrime, fraud, counterfeiting and terrorism, and to extradite foreign criminals to face justice for crimes committed abroad, and repatriate to the UK those suspected of committing serious crimes here, covering rape, murder, child sex offenders, violent offences, white collar crime and benefit fraud. Britain is significantly safer and more secure from crime and terrorism today as a result of these measures.