UK set to withdraw from EAW

Despite warnings against the move, the government has said that it would not be seeking to participate in the European arrest warrant (EAW) as part of the future relationship with the EU.

A document setting out the UK’s approach to negotiations with the EU stated: “The agreement should instead provide for fast-track extradition arrangements, based on the EU’s surrender agreement with Norway and Iceland which came into force in 2019, but with appropriate further safeguards for individuals beyond those in the European arrest warrant.”

The EAW means that police forces, prosecutors and the National Crime Agency can effect a fast extradition of a criminal suspect from any EU member state, and likewise EU countries can apply to the UK to return fugitives.

The European Commission has previously claimed that average extradition times have been reduced from one year to less than two months through the use of the EAW. Data shows that the UK returned 9,853 EU nationals to their home states to face justice between 2009 and 2018, and brought back 1,271 Britons during the same period.

As an example of the EAW speed, it took 10 years to extradite Rachid Ramda from Britain to France over his role in the 1995 Paris metro bombing. In contrast, it took just 56 days to bring the failed 21/7 London tube bomber Hussain Osman back from Italy to London using an arrest warrant in 2005.

Labour MP Yvette Cooper, who chairs the Home Affairs Select Committee, said: “The government’s new proposals for security cooperation with the EU are extremely worrying. The announcement today made it plain that the UK is no longer seeking the kind of access to vital EU databases and security tools that would replicate our existing relationship, despite its own analysis stating repeatedly that failing to participate in existing tools would mean a serious loss of capability with damaging consequences for public safety.

“The government’s new red lines make it exceedingly difficult for anything more than the standard third-country relationship with the EU on security cooperation to be negotiated. That is not good enough and marks a huge scaling back in ambition. The government only have six months before our existing security arrangements run out but the committee was told that it could take up to 18 months to ratify a new security treaty and possibly much longer for new extradition arrangements to replace the European arrest warrant. It is completely astounding that the government says that these new plans will make the country safer when we have been told time and time again by senior police officers and security experts that the opposite is true.”

Before she became Prime Minister, Theresa May argued strongly in favour of the EAW in her role as Home Secretary. The National Police Chiefs’ Council has stressed that, throughout the Brexit process, ‘police have been clear that we want to retain the capabilities of the EU tools we currently use and that remains the case’.


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