The Law Society of Scotland today welcomed the UK Government’s intention to maintain links with the Europol anti-crime network.

Responding 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, the Society warned 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.

It also believes that a wholesale repeal of the law which has emanated from the EU over the years would be problematic.

Michael Clancy the Society's director of law reform, commented: “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."

On the problems of repealing EU-derived law he added: “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 & 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."

He concluded: “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.”