Belfast Telegraph

No-deal Brexit policing slower and more bureaucratic - PSNI

Tim Mairs
Tim Mairs
Jonathan Bell

By Jonathan Bell

Cross-border policing in Northern Ireland will become slower and more bureaucratic in the event of a no-deal Brexit, the PSNI has warned.

Assistant Chief Constable Tim Mairs said the PSNI was preparing for the UK's departure from the EU on March 29 and had been since the referendum result in June 2016, but there was concerns around the "dilution" of powers and loss of "justice tools" such as the European arrest warrant should the UK leave without a deal.

"From PSNI’s perspective, these justice tools currently help support close collaboration with police partners right across Europe and in particular, our colleagues in An Garda Siochana with whom we work every day to keep people safe," he said.

It comes after a senior police chief who heads a task force of all UK forces preparing for Brexit warned leaving the EU without agreement could leave them with severely diminished powers with the loss of access to European databases and agreements build up with officers on the continent over decades to improve crime fighting.

Police may not have the powers to detain and hold a suspect they know to be a wanted in other parts of Europe.

Performing checks on individuals could also take 10 times longer leaving the opportunity for suspected criminals to flee the police as they would not be able to detain them to allow for the checks.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Richard Martin, the national policing lead for Brexit, did emphasise policing would continue and he didn't believe the UK would become a country of choice for crime gangs.

Policing Board member Dolores Kelly said, given Northern Ireland's position as having a border with the Republic and with the relationship between the PSNI and An Garda Siochana, there was potential for a  "criminal justice nightmare".

Assistant Chief Constable Tim Mairs added: “While EU Exit will not adversely affect the deep and embedded culture of collaboration between PSNI and An Garda Siochana, it is accepted that losing access to these tools will present us with challenges. While alternative arrangements will be available, they would be slower and more bureaucratic to operate.

“Since the referendum, PSNI have been part of a group convened by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) and the National Crime Agency (NCA) who have been preparing for EU Exit.

"As part of this work, the PSNI’s Extradition & International Mutual Assistance Unit is connected into the new International Crime Coordination Centre (ICCC), which will work to ensure that PSNI, along with all other UK Police Services are prepared and ready to use alternative arrangements should we lose access to the European Justice and Home Affairs measures."

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