Met police rush to set up no-deal Brexit 'safety net unit'

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A £2.4m "no deal safety net unit" is being rushed through by the Metropolitan Police amid alarm over the loss of vital EU tools after next March.

Police chiefs have warned home secretary Sajid Javid that losing such tools would make it harder to track sex offenders and terrorist suspects, according to internal police documents reported by the Guardian.

A report from Scotland Yard's deputy assistant commissioner, Richard Martin, seen by the Guardian, said police urgently needed to 'mitigate the impact of UK losing access to EU tools such as a database that monitors the movements of sex offenders and suspected terrorists".

Martin, a senior Met officer who leads on Brexit for the National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC), writes: 'On a Brexit no-deal scenario, the UK will lose access to European measures, tools and mechanisms. These instruments are used on a daily basis in operational policing and unless the UK can negotiate continued access to them we will no longer be able to use them.

'Similarly, EU member states will not be able to use them to work with UK law enforcement to help protect their citizens.

'The loss of one or more of these measures will have significant implications for policing. Frontline officers will be less connected to alerts from EU partners about suspects they encounter and it will be harder to monitor the movements of sex offenders or terrorist suspects if we lose the Schengen Information System II (SIS II).'

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British police officers checked SIS II about 539m times in 2017 alone.

The paper reported that the initial cost to the taxpayer was later raised by £250,000 to allow the new unit to rent an office near parliament after police said it did not have the space given the large size of the team.

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Discussions are ongoing about the extent of the running costs to the taxpayer should the UK crash out of the EU without a deal next March.

The document reports that the '"safety net" unit needed to be implemented 'in readiness for exit day'.

'The process to recruit and set in place the infrastructure to create the model would have to begin immediately as the time to get the resources in place, develop communications, national guidance, and deliver training will require a significant lead time', the paper says.

Labour MP Tulip Siddiq, a champion of the anti-Brexit campaign group Best for Britain, said: "It is desperate to see the Met being forced to take additional precautions to protect the British public due to the possibility of a noo-deal scenario.

"It is also absurd that the taxpayers are having to shell out £2.4m for a new unit, given our current arrangements with the EU protect us.

"This announcement only adds further concerns about the rising cost of no deal, and shows - yet again - the government's drastic mismanagement of the Brexit negotiations. This will be the tip of the iceberg in terms of the cost of no deal, and politicians of all stripes must reject the scenario from coming to pass."

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