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Britons will be less safe under no-deal Brexit

Lord Ricketts has warned that Britons would be ‘less safe’ in the increasingly likely event of a no-deal Brexit, due to the UK’s loss of access to a string of European crime databases which cannot easily be replaced.

The former national security adviser said that no-deal would see Britain definitively lose access to the Schengen database containing information about who is wanted or missing across the EU, replacing it with an Interpol system that is not integrated into UK police or border systems. Police conceded last month that the move to the Interpol system, which has already required an extra 60 law enforcement staff, ‘will have a major operational impact’ on investigations.

The EU has refused to carve out a separate security deal if the trade talks fail, and the latest no-deal contingency agreement outlined by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen made no reference to security.

A no-deal Brexit would also see police lose access to the Passenger Name Records (PNR) system, which tracks travel details, and Prüm, which contains DNA and fingerprint records. For both, there is not yet a complete alternative available to police. Martin Hewitt, chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, recently warned that losing Prüm would mean ‘the UK would need to revert to individual manual exchanges of data via Interpol channels on a case by case basis’.

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