– Inquiry will consider the effect of Brexit on cross-border criminal activity and barriers to UK-Ireland co-operation on police, security and criminal justice.
– Inquiry will also examine potential alternatives to EU agreements that have underpinned cross-border cooperation.
The Northern Ireland Affairs Committee has launched an inquiry that will examine post-Brexit cross-border co-operation on policing, security and criminal justice between the UK and Ireland.
The new inquiry will examine the implications of Brexit for cross-border criminal activity and will identify barriers to co-operation from January 2021, including if no deal is agreed between the UK and the EU. It will also examine potential replacements for the agreements and access that provided much of the basis for cross-border co-operation.
The announcement comes on the day the latest round of EU-UK trade negotiations begins and soon after a demonstration of cross-border police and intelligence co-operation in the arrest of suspected New IRA members last month.
When the transition period ends on 31 December, the UK will lose access to the EU agreements and processes that have underpinned cross-border co-operation for years. Agreements, such as those allowing for use of the European Arrest Warrant and access to EU data and information-sharing, had ensured criminals could be sought across jurisdictions and brought to justice.
The UK and Ireland may need to develop new mechanisms to facilitate long-term security and criminal justice co-operation between the two countries. This could come into sharp relief if the UK and the EU cannot agree a future relationship that allows similar co-operation arrangements after Brexit. Ireland may require agreement at the EU-level to enter into bi-lateral agreements with the UK, because justice and home affairs are EU competencies.
Simon Hoare, Chairman of the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee said: “No one wants to see an increase in cross-border criminal activity as a result of Brexit. Allowing this to happen would harm the people of Northern Ireland, of the Republic of Ireland and of the whole of the UK.
Cross-border co-operation on policing, security and criminal justice has heavily relied for years on agreements and arrangements made at the EU level. The outcome of negotiations between the UK and the EU on these issues remains uncertain. With such little time left, it is essential that we examine what will replace the European Arrest Warrant and the UK’s access to information-sharing services such as the European Criminal Records Information System from January.
Our inquiry will seek to identify the challenges posed by the potential loss of access to such arrangements and how those arrangements can be replaced to ensure effective cross-border co-operation. We will also consider how the different likely scenarios might affect cross-border criminal activity.
Criminals must not be able to find refuge in intelligence and policing blackspots caused by jurisdictions no longer speaking to each other. Co-operation and communication are key to bringing such criminals to justice.”