Britain will look to agree a comprehensive new security, law enforcement and criminal justice partnership with the European Union (EU) after Brexit to fight what the Government calls “our shared threats from terrorism and organised crime”.
In the latest future partnership paper, which lays out the UK’s vision for a “deep and special partnership” with the EU, the Government stresses the need to build upon and enhance the internal security co-operation that already exists. Leaving the EU will change the nature of that co-operation, but it will do little to change the threats we all face or reduce the value of the UK as a security partner.
According to the Government, that’s precisely why it’s in the interests of Britain and the EU to continue to work together and develop a new framework for preventing, detecting, investigating and prosecuting criminal and terrorist activity across our borders.
The paper calls for a comprehensive model for co-operation between the UK and the EU on security, law enforcement and criminal justice, in turn reflecting the fact that Britain’s operational processes and data sharing systems are already uniquely aligned with the EU.
The Government’s three core objectives for these new arrangements are protecting the safety and security of citizens and upholding justice in the UK and across the EU, maintaining the closest and most co-operative partnerships between Britain and the 27 EU Member States and continuing to co-operate on the basis of shared democratic values and respect for the rule of law.
The UK has been one of the leading contributors to the development of effective information sharing and law enforcement co-operation at an EU level, all the while working through agencies such as Europol to bring criminals to justice and prevent crime from taking place.
Britain will remain committed to the security of the European continent after Brexit. The Government states that: “Our determination to protect the safety and security of EU citizens as well as UK citizens will not diminish.”
Importance of ongoing co-operation
The EU also recognises the importance of co-operation in this area and has stated that it’s firmly committed to the fight against terrorism and international crime.
The paper says there should be a new security treaty between the UK and the EU post-Brexit to provide a legal basis for continued working. In moving towards any new agreement, it will be important to ensure that there are no operational gaps created by the transition from one set of arrangements to another.
David Davis, Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, said: “With the shared threats facing us evolving faster than ever before, it’s vital that the UK and the EU maintain and strengthen the close security collaboration we currently have. Together with the EU, we’ve developed some of the world’s most sophisticated systems in the fight against crime because cross-border co-operation is absolutely crucial if we’re to keep our citizens safe and bring criminals to justice. That’s why we want to build a new partnership with the EU that goes beyond any existing relationship it has with non-Member States such that we can continue countering these cross-border threats together.”
Home Secretary Amber Rudd added: “The recent terror attacks in London and Manchester and across other parts of Europe have been stark reminders of the shared and evolving threat the UK and our EU partners face in this day and age. That’s why it’s crucial for the security of the UK and the continent that we continue to enhance our co-operation after we leave the EU. This position paper is the first step towards reaching an agreement to ensure that we continue to protect millions of people across Europe.”
Speaking on behalf of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, Commander Richard Martin said: “Law enforcement co-operation between the UK and other EU countries keeps citizens on both sides of the Channel much safer. Any degradation in our ability to work together and share information as we leave the European Union gives advantage to criminals and terrorists. We’ve worked with Government to explain our operational requirements, the benefits they bring and the risks of losing them. We’re assured that this paper reflects those requirements. It’s now for the negotiators to work through the fine details. We’re on hand to support the process by sharing our operational advice and experience. In the meantime, we continue to work closely with our EU partners.”
Multi-million pound boost for counter-terrorism policing
Amber Rudd has also announced that an extra £24 million is to be pumped into counter-terrorism policing in the wake of this year’s terror attacks. The entirely new funding, which is in addition to £707 million already announced to support counter-terrorism policing in 2017-2018, will be used to bolster protective security measures in crowded places. This will include helping to protect the public from the specific threat of vehicles being used as weapons.
The extra funding will go to counter-terrorism police including the Metropolitan Police Service and the Greater Manchester Police to assist with their response to the threat of terrorism and help meet costs relating to the recent terrorist attacks.
“We have seen several devastating terrorist attacks in quick succession this year, most recently in Parsons Green, and the police have responded to this challenge outstandingly,” explained the Home Secretary. “The threat we face from terrorism is becoming more complex and diverse. That’s why we’re reviewing our counter-terrorism strategy to ensure the authorities have the powers they need to halt terrorist activity. I’m grateful to the police and the Security Services for all that they’re doing to keep us safe.”
The new funding comes in addition to the Government’s commitment to increase spending on counter-terrorism by 30% (from £11.7 billion to £15.1 billion). The Government has also provided £144 million over the Spending Review period for a national uplift in armed policing capability as well as funding for an additional 1,900 officers at the security and intelligence agencies.
Official figures released by the Home Office show the highest number of arrests for terrorism-related offences in a year since such data collection began back in 2001.
Home Office advertises for extremism commissioner
The Home Office has just launched a recruitment campaign to appoint a Lead Commissioner for Countering Extremism.
Confirmed in the Queen’s Speech, the Commission for Countering Extremism will have a clear remit to identify extremism and advise the Government on new policies, laws and other actions that may be required to tackle it. It will also support communities and the public sector to confront extremism wherever it exists and promote British values.
The Commission will also help to train staff at schools and colleges to spot the warning signs and stamp out extremism. As there’s a strong correlation between extremism and the poor treatment of women and girls, the Commission will have a specific responsibility to ensure that women’s rights are upheld.
The successful candidate for lead commissioner will advise the Home Secretary on the Commission’s future role and shape and agree its priorities in partnership with the Home Office.
“This Government is committed to tackling extremism in all its forms,” outlined Amber Rudd. “As the Prime Minister said after the London Bridge attack earlier this year, enough is enough. The new Commission for Countering Extremism will have a key role to play in this fight. It will identify and challenge tolerance of extremism, tackle extremist ideology and promote British values, learning the lessons from the struggle against racism in the 20th Century. The Lead Commissioner will head up this vital work and I very much look forward to working with the successful candidate.”