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We have all seen the dreadful event that occurred recently in Grays, Thurrock where 39 people were found dead in the back of a lorry trailer. We commend Essex Police, the national crime agency and Europol’s trafficking team for all the work they have done in this fast-moving investigation.
If the UK leaves the EU without agreeing a cooperation agreement it will no longer be part of Europol or the European Justice network and will fall outside the scope of the European Arrest Warrant.
I have recently retired from the Metropolitan Police. When I was a serving police officer I would always check to see if someone was wanted on a European Arrest Warrant and if they were, the process of sending them back to their home country was relatively easy. If Brexit happens it will be much more difficult because we won’t have access to vital European databases like the Schengen information system (SIS).
SIS is the most widely used and largest information sharing system for security and border management in Europe. At the end of 2017, it contained approximately 76.5 million records, it was accessed 5.2 billion times and secured 243,818 hits.
SIS is used to check the legal status of vehicles. It allows the police to create alerts on missing persons or objects related to criminal offences. Post Brexit UK law enforcement bodies would have to rely on Interpol alerts which are not nearly as effective.
Senior British Police officers are so alarmed at the potential loss of this valuable tool that teams were put together to copy and paste SIS alerts should the UK be locked out of this system. Without the same security terms as now, our law enforcement bodies will be at a disadvantage compared to the EU's.
Make no mistake, the criminal network across the EU are looking at the UK and are thinking that there are rich pickings to be made post-Brexit. People should be rightfully concerned about this because the criminal networks across Europe will be targeting them.
By James Chespy, Retired Metropolitan Police Officer