The Law Society has welcomed the UK Government’s intention to maintain links with Europol, warning that a failure to opt-in to the new European policing co-operation framework would have implications for the ability of the police to share information on cross-border criminal activity.
The Law Society’s has responded to the House of Lords EU Home Affairs Sub-Committee inquiry into police and security co-operation between the UK and EU following a UK exit from the EU.
Michael Clancy, Director Law Reform, Law Society of Scotland said: “The ability to share information quickly and co-ordinate operations with other law enforcement agencies through Europol is key to detecting, disrupting and detaining criminals across borders.
“Ensuring the UK’s security after leaving the EU is essential and we welcome the recent announcement from the UK Government signalling the intention to opt-in to Europol.
In its response to the Home Affairs Committee, the Law Society of Scotland also said that a wholesale repeal of the law which has emanated from the EU over the years would be problematic.
Mr Clancy said: “We have to bear in mind the public interest in maintaining consistent application of the law concerning aspects of freedom, security, ensuring citizens’ rights, and in cases which are due to go before theCourt of Justice of the European Union .
“It’s clear that a wholesale repeal of the law which has emanated from the EU over the years will be problematic, difficult to implement, and unduly disruptive.
“A number of EU measures have been developed to deal with cross-border situations over the years, for example where it is suspected that a criminal organisation is operating in several EU countries, or that a suspected criminal is hiding in a different EU country. In such cases, cooperation is necessary and the roles played by agencies such as Europol or the European Network and Information Security Agency (ENISA), which as an EU member we currently have access to, should not be underestimated.
“Another consideration for the UK Government is the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) which has allowed effective policing beyond our borders. We know that Scotland has been making use of the EAW. The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service recently published figures showing there have been 48 extraditions to Scotland and 49 EAWs have been issued by Scotland during the past five years.
“We believe that the UK Government should consider giving priority to maintaining access to all agencies during its discussions on how we withdraw from the EU. It would also be desirable for the UK to retain the ability to influence the policies and operational activities of those organisations, but of course this could be a challenge once we are no longer a member of the EU.”
The Law Society has also responded to the UK Parliament’s Justice Committee inquiry on the implications of Brexit for the Justice System and provided written briefings to all MSPs ahead of the Scottish Government debate on the UK Referendum on EU Membership: Impacts on Justice and Security in Scotland which took place on 1 November 2016.
You can view all our consultations and parliamentary work relating to Brexit on the Law Society’s website: