News ID: 260101
Published: 1159 GMT October 12, 2019

No-deal Brexit 'would leave police unable to arrest those wanted abroad'

No-deal Brexit 'would leave police unable to arrest those wanted abroad'
IAN GEORGESON/ALAMY

Police will be unable to arrest suspects wanted abroad in the event of a no-deal Brexit and have been pressing the government for months to plug a loophole in the law, the officer in charge of no-deal planning for police chiefs said.

Richard Martin, the deputy assistant commissioner of the National Police Chiefs Council, said officers would be powerless to arrest those wanted abroad without access to the European arrest warrant and would need to get one from a magistrate instead, the Guardian reported.

Martin said that for most of this year police had been negotiating with the Home Office but it was only in recent weeks that draft legislation had been produced — with less than three weeks to go until the deadline for the UK to leave the EU or seek an extension.

He said it was the main no-deal concern for police. Last year more than 1,400 people wanted on European arrest warrants were held in the UK on behalf of police across Europe.

In the event of a no-deal Brexit, the UK would lose access to the European arrest warrant and would have to rely on red notices issued by Interpol under the 1957 European convention on extradition.

Martin said, “At the moment there is no domestic legislation for somebody who is wanted on the red notice. We would have to go and get a magistrate’s warrant. What you could end up with is an officer being in an unenviable position where somebody in front of them is wanted overseas. Unless you have other grounds to detain them, you can’t do anything about it. So what we are trying to do is close the loophole.”

Police said they hoped the emergency law needed to plug the gap would be in the Queen’s speech this month.

Martin said at a briefing for journalists, “We’ve been pushing and advocating for it for some time. We’ve been negotiating most of this year with the Home Office, it’s just recently been drafted in the last few weeks and signed off by the home secretary.”

Police said there had been a spike in hate crime in the second and fourth weeks of September, around the same time as key debates in Westminster about Brexit. Figures are expected to be released next week.

Police also said 26 out of 43 forces in England and Wales had restricted leave for officers in the run-up to the possible no-deal departure on October 31. Two forces, Kent and Hampshire, have requested mutual aid, whereby officers from outside areas would be drafted in to help. Kent covers Dover and Hampshire covers ports including Portsmouth.

No-deal planning for police has cost £26 million so far and the final cost is expected to be far higher.

A Home Office spokesperson said, “New legislation to create a power of arrest for Interpol red notices without having to apply to the court first will enhance policing capabilities regardless of the Brexit outcome.”

 

 

 

   
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