MPs to examine policing cross-border crime post-Brexit
7 September 2020
- Northern Ireland Affairs Committee launches new inquiry.
- Inquiry will consider the effect of Brexit on cross-border criminal activity and barriers to UK-Ireland co-operation on police, security and criminal justice.
- Inquiry will also examine potential alternatives to EU agreements that have underpinned cross-border cooperation.
The Northern Ireland Affairs Committee has launched an inquiry that will examine post-Brexit cross-border co-operation on policing, security and criminal justice between the UK and Ireland.
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The deadline for sending a submission is 2 October2020.
The new inquiry will examine the implications of Brexit for cross-border criminal activity and will identify barriers to co-operation from January 2021, including if no deal is agreed between the UK and the EU. It will also examine potential replacements for the agreements and access that provided much of the basis for cross-border co-operation.
The announcement comes the day before the latest round of EU-UK trade negotiations begin and soon after a demonstration of cross-border police and intelligence co-operation in the arrest of suspected New IRA members last month.
When the transition period ends on 31 December, the UK will lose access to the EU agreements and processes that have underpinned cross-border co-operation for years. Agreements, such as those allowing for use of the European Arrest Warrant and access to EU data and information-sharing, had ensured criminals could be sought across jurisdictions and brought to justice.
The UK and Ireland may need to develop new mechanisms to facilitate long-term security and criminal justice co-operation between the two countries. This could come into sharp relief if the UK and the EU cannot agree a future relationship that allows similar co-operation arrangements after Brexit. Ireland may require agreement at the EU-level to enter into bi-lateral agreements with the UK, because justice and home affairs are EU competencies.
Simon Hoare, Chairman of the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee said:
“No one wants to see an increase in cross-border criminal activity as a result of Brexit. Allowing this to happen would harm the people of Northern Ireland, of the Republic of Ireland and of the whole of the UK.
Cross-border co-operation on policing, security and criminal justice has heavily relied for years on agreements and arrangements made at the EU level. The outcome of negotiations between the UK and the EU on these issues remains uncertain. With such little time left, it is essential that we examine what will replace the European Arrest Warrant and the UK’s access to information-sharing services such as the European Criminal Records Information System from January.
Our inquiry will seek to identify the challenges posed by the potential loss of access to such arrangements and how those arrangements can be replaced to ensure effective cross-border co-operation. We will also consider how the different likely scenarios might affect cross-border criminal activity.
Criminals must not be able to find refuge in intelligence and policing blackspots caused by jurisdictions no longer speaking to each other. Co-operation and communication are key to bringing such criminals to justice.”
Terms of reference
The Northern Ireland Affairs Committee would welcome the submission of written evidence that addresses:
- what effects Brexit will have on cross-jurisdictional criminality between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland;
- what effects Brexit, and the new customs arrangements under the Northern Ireland Protocol, could have on criminality between the island of Ireland and Great Britain;
- what new barriers will be created to cross-border security co-operation between the UK and the Republic of Ireland when the transition period ends, including if no deal on the UK-EU future relationship is agreed;
- what steps need to be taken by the UK Government, in collaboration with the Irish Government, to replace any loss of access to the European Arrest Warrant as a tool for law enforcement co-operation between the UK and the Republic of Ireland in the context of:
(a) a future relationship deal agreed between the UK and EU that includes arrangements for security and judicial co-operation; or
(b) there being no deal agreed between the UK and EU before the transition period ends on 31 December 2020;
- what steps the UK can take to replace any loss of access to existing EU data and information-sharing arrangements;
- how Brexit will affect co-operation between the PSNI and Garda, as well as UK and Irish crime agencies, in tackling cross-border crime; and
- what scope exists for the UK and the Republic of Ireland to pursue alternative approaches to policing, security and criminal justice co-operation outside the EU acquis.