Londoners’ safety could be put at risk if the Government fails to strike a Brexit deal by the end of the year, the City’s London Assembly Member, Unmesh Desai, has warned.
Mr Desai raised the need for continued co-operation with the European Union over security matters and access to the European Arrest Warrant at Thursday’s Mayor’s Question Time (MQT).
In response, the Mayor agreed that if the Government stayed on their trajectory towards a no-deal Brexit, it would threaten the ability of the Metropolitan Police to bring perpetrators of serious crimes to justice. He went on to say, “If you’re a criminal, you will be looking forward to next year when there’s no European Arrest Warrant if you want to flee to Europe.”
During the exchange, Mr Desai highlighted that without a Brexit deal, the United Kingdom would lose access to the European Arrest Warrant, which enables criminals to be transferred across borders with other EU member states within 48 days.
In this situation, the UK would need to fall back on the older and much slower, Council of Europe 1957 European Convention on Extradition, under which, extraditions can take up to at least a year.
The Mayor revealed that he had recently written to the Home Secretary on this issue, but was disappointed in her response, which indicated that the Government would be content to fall back on the slower extradition arrangements.
He said that: “It’ll be slower, it’ll be clunkier, it’ll be more expensive, and it’ll cause huge distress to the victims of crime.”
Mr Desai also asked the Mayor to put into plain terms what the lack of a Brexit deal and the loss of the current level of co-operation with EU police forces would mean for Londoners’ safety.
Mr Khan responded by quoting Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Neil Basu, the most senior counter-terrorism police officer in the country, who has said: “It would create an immediate risk that people could come to this country who were serious offenders and we would not know about it.”
Mr Desai said: “One of the lesser known consequences of leaving the EU without a deal is that it would lead to a serious and harmful backwards step in our co-operation with police forces across Europe.
“If we don’t have a deal, we lose access to the European Arrest Warrant, the European Criminal Records Information System, the Schengen Information System and more.
“In simple terms, Londoners’ safety will be put at risk. Ministers need to ask themselves if they really want to make it easier for criminals to enter this country undetected or flee our justice system to Europe.”