No-deal will hamper war on terror, says Khan

PUBLISHED: 11:41 13 November 2018

Armed police on Borough High Street at London Bridge, during the 2017 terrorist attack
Photo: PA / Dominic Lipinski

Armed police on Borough High Street at London Bridge, during the 2017 terrorist attack Photo: PA / Dominic Lipinski

PA Archive/PA Images

A no-deal Brexit would leave police and security services struggling to tackle terrorism, according to London’s mayor.

Sadiq Khan said a chaotic exit form the European Union would leave police and spooks fighting terror “with their arms tied behind their backs”.

He called for a separate deal to be struck on security issues following warnings from police leaders that crashing out of the EU will make it harder to protect Britain.

READ: Voters in swing Tory seats back new Brexit referendum, study shows

There are 40 tools that UK law enforcement may lose access to in the spring, including the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) and the Schengen Information System, an intelligence database that was accessed 539 million times by British authorities last year alone.

Khan said: “I am deeply concerned about the impact that crashing out of the European Union without a deal will have on the safety and security of our city.

“National policing experts have already warned that losing access to the European Arrest Warrant and Europol, to name just two examples, will make it harder to keep tabs on terrorist and serious organised criminal networks.

“It will fundamentally mean asking our police and security services to tackle the terrorist threat with their arms tied behind their backs.”

A new national police unit has been set up to oversee how forces use alternative systems in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

In September, Sara Thornton, chairman of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, warned: “The fallbacks we’re going to have to use will be slower, will be more bureaucratic and it will make it harder for us to protect UK citizens and make it harder to protect EU citizens.

“We are determined to do everything we can to mitigate that, but it will be hard.”

The EAW is used up to 1,600 times a year by UK authorities, and for every one Briton arrested on a EAW, eight are detained by British police on behalf of other member states and extradited out of the country.

Thornton said in the event of no deal, police would have to rely on using much slower extradition processes under a convention from 1957.

Checks on foreign nationals in Britain could take more than 10 times longer. Under current systems it would take an average of six days to check if a foreign national has criminal convictions in their home country; in the event of no deal that would extend to an estimated 66 days.

Khan is calling for a separate deal covering key measures to avoid disruption in the event of no deal.

These include the EAW, Schengen system, law enforcement agency Europol and databases covering EU passenger lists, criminal records, DNA, fingerprint and vehicle registrations.

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