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Lawyers In For Britain: The UK and the EU: Benefits, misconceptions and alternatives banner

The internationalisation of crime and terrorism continues to grow. British citizens benefit from European policies that enhance protection both at home and across Europe:

  • The European Arrest Warrant requires Member States to arrest and transfer a suspect or sentenced person to an issuing state so that a person can be put on trial, or serve his sentence.
  • The European Arrest Warrant has streamlined extradition procedures from around a year to 48 days on average in contested cases.[1]
  • The European Arrest Warrant has been used successfully to arrest individuals, notably to extradite Hussein Osman, a terrorist involved in the attempted bomb attack in London in July 2005, to face justice in Britain, after he had fled to Italy. Despite contesting extradition, he was surrendered to the UK from Italy under an EAW within two months and put on trial. After conviction, he was sentenced to life imprisonment (with a 40-year recommended minimum term).
  • The ability of the UK to access streamlined extradition procedures to facilitate the swift removal from the UK of criminals found within its borders helps prevent the UK becoming a safe haven for fugitives.[2]
  • British citizens benefit from the protection offered by the second generation Schengen Information System, a European-wide IT system, which ensures that British authorities receive law enforcement alerts in real time.[3] It facilitates cooperation and information sharing in relation to law enforcement, enabling police forces across Europe to share data on a range of topics including missing persons, stolen cars, court proceedings or the immediate EU-wide diffusion of arrest warrants.
  • UK police forces benefit from the expertise of the European Police Office (Europol) which provides unique intelligence on cyber-crime, terrorism and other cross border crimes. For example, in 2010, twenty eight children were rescued as part of a joint operation led by the UK Metropolitan Police and Europol. The operation was part of a wider investigation called Operation Golf, which consisted of a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) between the Metropolitan Police and the Romanian National Police. The aim of the JIT was to tackle a specific Romanian organised crime network that was trafficking and exploiting children from the Roma community. The investigation has led to the arrest of over 125 individuals for offences including trafficking human beings (including internal trafficking in the UK), money laundering, benefit fraud, child neglect, perverting the course of justice, theft and handling of stolen goods. The operation’s primary aim was to safeguard the potential child victims and involved 16 addresses being searched in the UK.[4]
  • The British head of Europol, Rob Wainwright, has stated that if Britain leaves the EU it will have to leave Europol, which “will make Britain’s job harder to fight crime and terrorism because it will not have the same access to very well-developed European cooperation mechanisms that it currently has today”.[5]
  • British citizens are able to contest criminal proceedings against them in other EU states from the UK pursuant to the ‘Eurobail’ provisions of the European Supervision Order.[6]
  • British citizens benefit from minimum procedural standards across Europe, which help victims of crime,[7] or those who are accused of crime,[8] in other EU countries.
  • the European Protection Order allows vulnerable British citizens who have applied for “protection measures” to travel within the EU whilst being protected from violence[9] – a restraining order issued in England and Wales can now be recognised in every EU Member State.[10]
  • Cooperation in relation to customs across the EU allows Member States to better tackle smuggling and to carry out criminal investigations across the EU. For example, in Operation Forecourt, intelligence indicated that an organised crime group was using drivers, working for a legitimate transport company, to smuggle illicit tobacco products into the UK. Europol analysed key intelligence contributions which pinpointed the criminals’ modus operandi and helped to identify the source of the tobacco supply, people and vehicles involved. The operation concluded with two arrests and the seizure of nearly two tonnes of hand-rolling tobacco by the UK authorities. This prevented duty and tax losses to the UK of around €277 000.[11]

On the broader geopolitical front, we believe that EU membership enables the UK to face common challenges together with its European allies. Whether it’s migration, a more assertive Russia, or terrorism, we believe that the UK is better able to meet these concerns together with other EU countries than out on its own.

As the NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has said, “A strong European Union with a strong Britain is good for NATO… For NATO it is important to have a strong Europe… A strong Britain in a strong Europe is contributing to stability”.[12]

  1. European Commission, Report from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council, On the implementation since 2007 of the Council Framework Decision of 13 June 2002 on the European arrest warrant and the surrender procedures between Member States SEC(2011) 430 final, page 3 – http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=COM:2011:0175:FIN:EN:PDF. The European Arrest Warrant requires Member States to arrest and transfer a suspect or sentenced person to an issuing state so that a person can be put on trial, or serve his sentence, so long as (in an accusation case) the offence carries a maximum penalty of a year or more in prison or (in a conviction case) a sentence of four months or greater has been imposed. As at November 2014, national statistics indicate that the 50-day average surrender period for contested cases remains constant – http://www.ejn-crimjust.europa.eu/ejn/libdocumentproperties.aspx?Id=1711, paragraph 7.2. The majority of defendants consent to surrender, and the average time there is approximately 20 days, ibid, paragraph 7.1.
  2. Independent Review of the United Kingdom’s Extradition Arrangements, Sir Scott Baker, 18 October 2011, paragraphs 2.5 and 5.204 –https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/117673/extradition-review.pdf.
  3. Home Office, second generation Schengen Information System (SISII): General Information, 13 April 2015 – https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/421540/SISII_General_Information_document.pdf.
  4. https://www.europol.europa.eu/content/page/operational-successes-127.
  5. Interviewed by the BBC in February 2016 – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-35524017. While Mr Wainwright acknowledged that the UK could continue to cooperate with its European neighbours from outside of the EU, “it will be more costly and certainly much less effective because the UK will be absenting itself from having access to the kind of well-developed arrangements that currently exist and have developed over the last 40 years”. Mr Wainwright also noted that he does not see “any security benefits, frankly, from the UK leaving the EU”.
  6. The European Supervision Order – Council Framework Decision 2009/829/JHA of 23 October 2009 on the application, between Member States of the European Union, of the principle of mutual recognition to decisions on supervision measures as an alternative to provisional detention – http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2009:294:0020:0040:EN:PDF. Implemented in the UK by Part 7 of the Criminal Justice and Data Protection (Protocol No. 36) Regulations 2014/3141 – http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2014/3141/pdfs/uksi_20143141_en.pdf.
  7. Directive 2012/29/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2012 establishing minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime – http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2012:315:0057:0073:EN:PDF; reflected in England in the Code of Practice for Victims of Crime, issued under the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004, last revised November 2015 (SI 2015/1817) – http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2004/28/contents.
  8. Directive 2010/64/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 October 2010 on the right to interpretation and translation in criminal proceedings – http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2010:280:0001:0007:en:PDF; Directive 2012/13/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 May 2012 on the right to information in criminal proceedings – http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2012:142:0001:0010:en:PDF; Directive 2013/48/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 October 2013 on the right of access to a lawyer in criminal proceedings and in European arrest warrant proceedings, and on the right to have a third party informed upon deprivation of liberty and to communicate with third persons and with consular authorities while deprived of liberty – http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2013:294:0001:0012:EN:PDF. Draft additional directives exist on the presumption of innocence and the right to be present at trial, on special safeguards for children suspected and accused in criminal proceedings, and on provisional legal aid, aim to guarantee fair trial rights for all citizens, wherever they are in the EU. These proposals are accompanied by recommendations on safeguards for vulnerable persons suspected or accused in criminal proceedings, and on the right to legal aid in criminal proceedings.
  9. Regulation (EU) No.606/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 June 2013, on mutual recognition of protection measures in civil matters – http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2013:181:0004:0012:en:PDF; 2014 No.3300, The Criminal Justice (European Protection Order) (England and Wales) Regulations 2014 – http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukdsi/2014/9780111122723.
  10. European Commission Press Release: Better protection for victims of domestic violence under new EU law adopted today, 6 June 2013 – http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-13-510_en.htm.
  11. https://www.europol.europa.eu/content/page/operational-successes-127.
  12. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaking on the BBC’s The World at One, 1 February 2016 – http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03h6v6g.