EU police and crime opt-outs risk ability to fight crime, warns Law Society

The Law Society has warned that opting-out of EU police and crime cooperation measures may jeopardise the UK’s ability to effectively fight cross border crime.

Chair of the Law Society’s Criminal Law Committee, Richard Atkinson said: “The European Arrest Warrant is an improvement on previous measures, which posed more problems, and it would be detrimental to take a step backwards, as it could leave suspects being held in pre-trial detention for longer periods.”

Richard Atkinson will give oral evidence to the House of Lords on Wednesday, as the Government considers withdrawing from EU measures on crime and policing.

In a response to the House of Lords last month the Society highlighted its concerns regarding cost and complexity.

Richard Atkinson pointed out that: “Systems need to be in place to facilitate effective cross-border co-operation in criminal justice matters between Member States and provide for corresponding procedural rights for victims and suspects.”

He said: “The UK will remain bound by the EU criminal justice measures agreed after the Lisbon Treaty even if it exercises the opt-out.”

“We can see no reason for opting out of measures which on anyone’s analysis are not harmful and a good number of which are beneficial and which we will need to opt back into at potentially great cost to the taxpayers of this country.”

Atkinson also questioned the implications for its involvement with Eurojust, the European Union body established to stimulate and improve the co-ordination of investigations and prosecutions among the competent judicial authorities of the European Union Member States when they deal with serious cross-border and organised crime.

“Should the UK fail to opt in to new measures likely to be proposed for these agencies, the UK may essentially fall out of those existing measures.”

16 January 2013

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