Unmesh Desai urges Government to “urgently get a grip” on security co-operation with EU

Unmesh Desai

The City’s London Assembly Member is calling on the Government to “urgently get a grip” on security co-operation with the European Union when the Brexit transition period ends on 31 December.

Unmesh Desai’s call comes as a Plenary Session of the London Assembly on Friday 11th December passed his motion calling on the Home Secretary to reach an agreement on security co-operation with the European Union or ensure other, adequate contingency measures are put in place.

Unless some agreement with the EU is reached before the end of the year, the Metropolitan Police and other forces across the UK will lose access to a range of systems used for security co-operation across the EU, including the European Arrest Warrant, the Schengen Information System and the ECRIS database. If that happens, police in the UK will instead have to fall back on older agreements and procedures such as the 1957 Council of Europe Convention on Extradition, Mr Desai has warned.

Giving evidence to the Assembly’s Police and Crime Committee last month, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Dame Cressida Dick QPM, said of the fall back procedures “they will be slower, they may be more costly and there will be an impact.”

Separately, the Chair of the National Police Chiefs Council, Martin Hewitt, has warned MPs that losing access to these systems would have “major operational impact”.

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Despite these stark warnings, the Government has still not secured an agreement with the EU and has only three weeks left to do so, whilst claiming there are measures already in place to keep UK citizens safe, leading Mr Desai to bring his motion to the London Assembly and urge the Government to take action.

Mr Desai said: “On 31 December, the Met will lose access to five major systems used to track down criminals across Europe and keep Londoners safe, including the European Arrest Warrant and the Schengen Information System, unless the Government makes a new agreement with the EU.

“Time isn’t just running out, it’s run out. The Government needs to act right now, but they just don’t seem to be taking Londoners’ safety seriously. Just yesterday, in the House of Commons Penny Mordaunt MP said ‘We have measures in place to ensure that our citizens will be safe’ but this simply isn’t true.

“Unless the Government can urgently get a grip and reach an agreement with the EU, the Met and other forces will lose access to the tools they know and instead be forced to fall back on outdated procedures and agreements, that risk leaving Londoners’ safety in jeopardy.”

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