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Loss of access to EU policing data post-Brexit concerning, Lords Committee finds

26 March 2021

On Friday 26 March, the European Union Security and Justice Sub-Committee publishes its report Beyond Brexit: policing, law enforcement and security. The report examines the provisions in the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA), signed by the UK and EU on 24 December 2020, which set out detailed arrangements to facilitate UK-EU cooperation on a range of EU policing and criminal justice measures. The report broadly welcomes these provisions, set out in Part three of the TCA, as they avoid a sudden end to collaboration in these areas that had been developed over 20 years.

The report

While noting the Government’s success in negotiating the agreement and the continued exchange of vital policing and law enforcement data it provides, as well maintenance of the UK’s participation in EU agencies such as Europol and Eurojust and continued cooperation on extradition, the report raises several concerns.

First, it highlights that the UK will no longer have access to the Schengen Information System (SIS II), used extensively, pre-Brexit, by UK law enforcement agencies to obtain real-time information about the movement of criminals, missing persons and objects of interest. Moreover, it finds that the system those agencies will use instead, the Interpol I-24/7 database, does not yet provide them with the same information at the same speed.

The report also raises concerns about the potential fragility of the arrangements in Part Three, which it notes can be suspended, or even terminated if the UK does not remain in step with changes to EU data protection laws, or if UK is found to have breached fundamental rights when handling personal data.

The report recommends that Parliament continues to monitor the implementation and effectiveness of many of Part Three’s provisions, which it concludes are complex, and, in many cases, are untested or yet to be finalised.

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