Brexit 'could derail extradition process'
The PSNI could find it harder to extradite people suspected of committing serious crimes if the European Arrest Warrant is lost as a result of Brexit, it has been warned.
An investigation by The Detail website found that in the past 10 years more than 100 warrants (EAWs) have been sought by the PSNI in high-profile cases - including murder, rape, human trafficking and terrorism.
Documents produced by the Northern Ireland Department of Justice (DOJ) reveal it believes the EAW must be maintained "for practical law enforcement" purposes and that the extradition process could become "toxic" if this does not happen.
Currently there is no replacement for EAWs following Brexit, with research carried out by The Detail showing that extradition agreements currently in place between the UK and non-EU countries have significantly lower success rates than the EAW.
Figures reveal the majority of EAWs sought by the PSNI relate to suspects in the Republic of Ireland.
The PSNI sought 154 EAWs between January 2007 and May this year with 71 warrants granted, leading to the extradition of 47 suspects to Northern Ireland.
The EAWs were sought in relation to offences such as breach of licence (13), rape (10), murder (7), human trafficking (2) and terrorism (2).
Around 31% of EAWs requested by the PSNI resulted in extradition, while there was only a 14% success rate using the extradition agreements in place with non-EU countries. Groups representing victims are concerned about how the loss of the EAW as a result of Brexit will affect victims.
Geraldine Hanna, chief executive of Victim Support NI, said it would make it more difficult for the PSNI to bring suspects back here to face the courts, leading to a lack of justice for victims for crime.
She added: "Delay can have a range of impacts on the victim."