Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, has called for a separate security agreement with the European Union away from the politics of Britain’s main post-Brexit deal in order to protect the safety of Londoners and mitigate the risk of a ‘no deal’ scenario. Such a move would also lessen the potential risks from Britain crashing out of the EU with no deal.
Currently, both London and Europe rely heavily on information-sharing with other security services to thwart the increased terror threat. There are 32 measures used on a daily basis by the police in London – including access to Europol, the European Arrest Warrant and EU Passenger Name Records – that have played a huge part in helping the hard-working police and Security Services disrupt serious organised crime, tackle the trafficking of deadly weapons and stop criminals passing through UK borders.
As Mayor, Khan is concerned that, if Britain leaves the EU without a deal and loses access to security measures, working with European partners will be slower and less efficient, in turn leading to London being less secure. That’s why, given the current state of negotiations between the Government and the EU, Khan feels ministers should act in the interests of our national security by reaching a separate security arrangement with Europe that can be swiftly agreed away from the politics of the wider deal.
Six ‘red lines’ listed
Londoners’ security is Khan’s first priority and, at a time of rising violent crime and the threat following four terrorist attacks in the capital last year, as well as the rise in the threat posed by far-right extremism, the Mayor has set out six ‘red lines’ which are crucial for continued co-operation on security and counter-terrorism with European partners and should form part of a separate security deal. They are as follows:
*The European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Co-operation (Europol) which enables vital intelligence sharing to help combat serious crimes including terrorism, money laundering and human trafficking
*The European Arrest Warrant which allows EU Member States to extradite people to stand trial or serve a sentence. Losing it would make it harder to bring suspects back to the UK to face justice
*The Schengen Information System II (SIS II) which means countries can share information on people and property through real-time alerts. It was consulted 3.9 billion times in 2016 by Member States and associated countries
*EU Passenger Name Records which allow UK Border Force agents to check passenger details against watch lists, making it harder for organised criminals and terrorists to hide their movements
*The European Criminal Records Information System which gives the UK access to criminal records throughout the EU (this is deemed critical in understanding the risk certain individuals represent)
*The Prüm arrangements which allow authorities to instantly access DNA profiles, fingerprint data and vehicle registration details
European Arrest Warrant in use
Britain’s access to EU security measures led to the arrest and extradition of Jamie Acourt in May on connection with the large-scale supply of drugs. The European Arrest Warrant was used to arrest and extradite the 2005 failed Shepherd’s Bush bomber Hussain Osman and is being used to pursue the two GRU officers believed to be responsible for the Novichok attack in Salisbury. The Mayor is clear that, without access to these crucial measures, our police and Security Services will be severely restricted in the battle to keep everyone safe.
It’s a warning national policing leads have been sounding, with fears raised about future access to key tools shared with other European countries in the event of a ‘no deal’ Brexit. National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) chair Sara Thornton has previously warned that: “The alternatives we are planning to use, where they exist, are without exception slower, more bureaucratic and ultimately less effective.”
Meanwhile, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Richard Martin, the NPCC’s lead for Brexit, has also said that, without access to EU data sharing and co-operation, our collective ability to map terrorist and criminal networks across Europe and bring those responsible to justice would be reduced.
Benefits of joint working
Sadiq Khan observed: “One of the many benefits of working with the EU has been in policing and security with cross-border co-operation improving the safety of Londoners. That’s why I’m 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 but two examples, will make it harder to keep tabs on terrorists and serious organised criminal networks. It will fundamentally mean asking our police and the Security Services to tackle the terrorist threat with their arms tied behind their backs.”
Khan concluded: “It’s time the Government recognised just how important this is. That’s why I’m calling for a standalone separate deal that can be done with EU leaders on security.”