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No-deal Brexit will hit database tools and arrest powers, chiefs warn


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Cliff-edge departure would turn DNA checks on suspects from 'minutes into months'.

Call back later: The loss of European database sharing will mean checking the criminal records of foreign offenders will increase 11-fold under no-deal

Call back later: The loss of European database sharing will mean checking the criminal records of foreign offenders will increase 11-fold under no-deal

Date - 11th October 2019
By - Chris Smith


No-deal Brexit will leave forces unable to access shared information on suspects and face having to go to just one court in the whole of the UK capable of issuing arrest warrants, it has emerged.

Law enforcement will lose access to critical intelligence databases including DNA if Britain exits the European Union without a deal at the end of the month.

Days away to a cliff-edge departure, police chiefs sounded the most pessimistic of warnings on the terms of engagement faced post-October 31.

Their comments were part of a bleak update from the International Crime Coordination Centre which has been tasked with working across government to deal with EU issues.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Richard Martin, who has been seconded from the Met Police, said: “That’s the real kicker. It’s one of our biggest risks.”

It revealed that at 11am on October 31, police forces would lose access to the Schengen Information System (SIS II) which enables member states to access details on persons of interest in real time.

This will include Article 26 alerts which circulate European arrest warrants. The EAW will also cease meaning its powers of instant arrest will no longer be applied.

The UK will have to use the 1957 European Convention on Extradition and in order to arrest someone on its red notice, officers will have to go to Westminster Magistrates’ Court – which is the only court in the country that has the power to hear the case.

Achieving this would also depend on whether the court had time to hear the case.

The change will affect around 1,500 criminals that UK forces deal with every year that are detained due to EU arrest warrants.

DAC Martin said: “We will have to switch off the systems that we currently use. This affects all officers not just serious crime.”

“If a burglar is wanted in France, we can’t do anything about it unless we have another reason to detain them.”

Forces will also be unable to access DNA database information through the Prum Treaty. The agreement on using the database was only finally signed earlier this year after years of negotiations.

“If we leave the EU without a deal, we will be forced to fall back on bilateral channels or Interpol,” the official ICCC statement said.

UK officers will have to manually process information using slower systems – which the ICCC estimates will cost forces an extra £20 million a year.

On DNA checks he said: “If we do leave without a deal we wouldn’t have that ability in future. We would go from minutes to months.”

He warned MPs would have to act fast – and include legislation in the Queen’s Speech: “Legislation will definitely have to go through the House. We’re hoping imminently but that depends on Parliamentary time.”

Policing has been sounded alarm bells for many months now.

In August, Ireland's police chief warned six decades of law enforcement cooperation with the UK would "fall away" after a no-deal Brexit.

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said members of his force would work with Police Service of Northern Ireland colleagues to mitigate the impact but using a treaty dating back to the 1950s would see “60 years of improvement fall away in terms of the development of criminal justice cooperation across Europe”.

Those fears seem to be backed up by new research which suggest cross-border police co-operation in Ireland is at serious risk in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

The report, Evolving Justice Arrangements Post-Brexit, warned that any Brexit-related disruption could have serious consequences for policing, justice and extradition.

Drawn from interviews with experts directly involved in policing and post-Brexit justice arrangements, the research found that Brexit fallback options will lead to inefficiency and ineffectiveness, bringing negative impacts and outcomes for victims and witnesses of crime.

Concerns over the impact of Brexit on policing were also laid bare at a meeting of the West Midlands Strategic Policing board last month.

Chief Superintendent Richard Baker warned that the time it takes to check the criminal records of foreign offenders will increase 11-fold under no-deal, while the force will lose access to shared systems which show if an individual is wanted in other European countries.

The West Midlands force arrested 8,535 foreigners last year, including 4,055 of whom were from the EU.

It also runs 800 suspects every month through the Europol information system.

Supt Baker explained that every time a foreign national offender comes into custody, the force submits their details to ACRO for a criminal record check to be done from their home country.

He said: "Six days later the info comes back, telling us about their criminal history from their home country. That then provides us with the opportunities to go and arrest and look for deportation opportunities ..."

He added: "Post Brexit, although we won’t lose access to ACRO the time to turn that around will increase from 6 days to approximately 66 days. so there will be an increase in potential risk that we are carrying because we are unaware of their previous criminal history."

In April, policing announced it had assembled the biggest ever peacetime reserve of riot-trained officers with chiefs warning campaigners and politicians to mind their language to avoid inflaming the "incredibly febrile" atmosphere around Brexit.

The 10,000 ready at 24 hours’ notice to quell disorder in England Wales and Northern Ireland – with 1,000 available in the first hour – represents a greater contingent of police manpower than deployed to reinforce local forces during the 2011 riots across England, the worst since the end of the Second World War.

Some fear regular services would be decimated if a national mobilisation was needed.

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I really don't think it matters how bad it will be, it's gone beyond good idea, bad idea. I'm not sure where its gone or going, but it's somewhere that logic has no place. 

I wonder if I'm one of those 10000 officers able to deploy within 24h. Wonder who's side we will be on. 

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