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Benefits of EU Police & Judicial Cooperation to the UK

October 16, 2012 3:16 PM
EU - UK cooperartion benefits us

EU Police & Judicial Cooperation benefits us

The four main Benefits of EU Police & Judicial Cooperation to the UK are:-

  • 1. European Arrest Warrant (EAW)
  • 2. Europol
  • 3. Eurojust:
  • 4. Joint Investigation Teams (JITs):

There are a number of other very useful measures including Effective Customs Cooperation, European Criminal Records Information System (ECRIS), Mutual Recognition of Financial Penalties, Prisoner Transfers, The Schengen Information System II, Simpler & Faster Information Exchange, Psychoactive Drugs information exchange, European Police Training College, Networks, European Image Archiving System, Mutual Recognition of Supervision Measures, Trials in Absentia, and Conflicts of jurisdiction in criminal matters.

All these measures benefit the fight against organised international crime, and must be kept rather than scrapped as some Conservative MPs and members of the government wish to do.

For more information on these see below:

European Arrest Warrant (EAW):

  • The EAW has dramatically reduced the time and cost it takes to bring back criminal suspects that have fled to other parts of the EU. Up to 62% of those issued with a EAW voluntarily surrender, allowing for repatriation to stand trial on average within 14-17 days. Where the individual does not voluntarily surrender, it takes an average of 48 days. In both cases, this compares very favourably to the previous arrangements which took months and sometimes years if at all.
  • In 2010 alone, the UK extradited over 145 individuals (both UK and non-UK citizens) from other EU member states to the UK to face criminal prosecutions for crimes they had committed here[1]. In the same year, 48 British nationals were extradited from the UK to other member states for crimes committed in those member states[2].
  • Over the last two years, the UK has used the EAW to extradite at least 71 non-UK nationals suspected of committing serious crimes in the UK. This includes 4 thefts, 4 robberies, 5 murders, 5 rapes, 6 child sexual offences, 9 cases of GBH and 14 cases of fraud[3].
  • However, the Baker Review in 2011[4] into the Arrest Warrant concluded that the EAW was working well and that its operation has been substantially improved over time. In particular, parallel measures (some in the mass opt out decision) have dealt with many of the criticisms: the ongoing parallel package of procedural rights measures which will raise criminal justice standards across the EU for the 3,000+ British nationals arrested and tried in other member states every year are subject to high standards of criminal justice[5], trials in absentia which will prevent individuals being extradited after a trial in absentia in another member state they were unaware of, prisoner transfers which will enable many to serve their sentences in their home member state, pre-trial supervision to prevent lengthy pre-trial detention in other member states and measures to resolve conflicts of jurisdiction.
  • The Baker Review concluded that the only remaining potential problem with the EAW was 'proportionality': a small number of member states overuse the EAW for small or petty crimes (though in practice, anecdotal evidence suggests that such cases are never prioritised by UK authorities). The European Commission has recently introduced more robust guidelines on how to use the EAW in a proportionate way and left open the possibility of further amendments to the EAW if necessary[6].

CASE STUDIES: Operation Captura & Crimestoppers!

Crimestoppers, the UK crime fighting charity founded and led by Tory party donor Lord Ashcroft, has an active and highly successful programme working with UK and Spanish authorities to track down and repatriate UK criminals that have fled to Spain using the EAW. Under the programme, called 'Operation Captura' 49 out of the 65 top UK fugitives hiding in Spain have been identified and repatriated to face justice in the UK. Full details of Operation Captura and its individual successes can be found Crimestoppers: arrests to date operation Captura and SOCA: Operation Captura Spain

CASE STUDY: London Bomber

Hussain Osman, one of the individuals involved in the failed July 2005 attempted London bombings was arrested in Italy under a UK issued European Arrest Warrant and extradited to the UK to face trial. Further details can be found from BBC report: Extradited bomb suspect charged

Europol:

While Interpol is effectively a communication hub only between national law enforcement agencies, Europol also has considerable analytical, operational and support capabilities which are hugely valued by UK law enforcement authorities, prosecutors and relevant NGOs. In almost every one of the attached list of UK success stories, Europol has played a major role. Europol supports UK law enforcement in a variety of ways[7]:

  • Providing various operational support services including via its 24/7 Operational Coordination and Support Centre, mobile office for on the spot support, forensic and technical analysis, operational analysis, financial support to operations, hosting operational meetings and coordinating cross-border operations, including Joint Investigation Teams[8] (in 2010, Europol was a member of 7 JITs and involved in 11 others[9]).
  • Through establishing Analysis Work Files and providing analytical support for crimes or crimes areas involving more than one EU member state[10].
  • Providing access to the Europol Information System (EIS) which includes EU-wide information on serious crimes and criminal suspects at large. The EIS holds over 174,000 pieces of crime information loaded up across all EU member states and member states have undertake over 120,000 searches of the EIS a year[11].
  • Providing secure access to sensitive operational information and information exchanges between national authorities via the Secure Information Exchange Network Application (SIENA). Launched in July 2009. As at March 2011 SIENA had been used to exchange on average 25,000 messages per month[12]. Over 13,000 cases were initiated on SIENA in 2011[13].
  • Producing valuable reports based on the EU-wide information they receive including threat assessments, situation reports and intelligence notifications[14].
  • Providing a variety of training courses for national law enforcement officers[15], such as the 2011 course on "Combating the Sexual Exploitation of Children on the Internet"[16].
  • Cooperating and coordinating activities with other agencies such as Eurojust, Frontex, the European Police College External Action Service, as well as with international security partners (e.g. US authorities under the Terrorist Finance Tracking Programme[17]) and organisations (e.g. Interpol)[18].

CASE STUDY: 'Operation Rescue'!

A 3 year operation launched by British Metropolitan Police and coordinated by Europol across 30 countries that led to the discovery of the world's largest online paedophile network. 670 suspects were identified, 184 arrests were made 230 sexually exploited children were released, including 60 in the UK. For further details See Europol Operational Successes and p.8-9 Child Sexual Exploitation factsheet.

CASE STUDY: 'Operation Golf'

A joint investigation between Europol, the Met and Romanian Police, broke up an organised criminal network operating a child trafficking network in the UK and across the EU. In 2010, this saw 7 individuals arrested in the UK and the release of 28 children. In total, some 121 individuals were arrested under the Operation, 181 children (trafficked for £20,000 each and earning traffickers £160k each per year) were identified and released and saving the UK £400,000 through stopping related benefit fraud. For further information, see p.17-18 The European Investigator and Operation GOLF and p. 107 House of Lords: Inquiry into The EU Internal Security Strategy

Eurojust:

UK authorities, such as the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), regularly use Eurojust to enhance, speed up and coordinate cross-border important investigations of importance to the UK. Eurojust provides a variety of services:

  • Responds to requests from member states for support with existing cases or to launch cross-border cases through Eurojust.
  • Runs a Eurojust Case Management System which enables Eurojust to cross-reference national cases for relevant information and connections, and to coordinate cross-border efforts.
  • Runs an On Call Coordination system providing 24/7 support for member states.
  • Involvement in, and administrative support and financing for Joint Investigation Teams (JITs, see below).
  • Acts to resolve conflicts or potential conflicts of jurisdiction in cross-border cases.

In 2011, Eurojust participated in 29 JITs and funded and administered a further 16 JITs[19]. In many of the attached success stories, Eurojust has played a critical role. In the last year alone, Eurojust has provided £500,000 in funding for JITs involving UK law enforcement authorities. In the last two years alone, UK authorities have requested Eurojust assistance in 166 cases[20]. In 2011 alone, UK authorities registered 127 cases with Eurojust[21]. The CPS engages with Eurojust to agree individual case strategies and wider thematic approaches to crimes and criminality that cross two or more EU jurisdictions and/or involve third Party (non-EU) States.

The CPS uses the European Judicial Network (EJN) to encourage early, direct liaison between prosecutors to advance individual case issues and provide quick advice as to an individual State's practice and procedure[22]. The European Liaison Magistrates Network is used to represent the CPS, the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), Revenue and Customs Prosecutions Office (RCPO) and the Crown Office in Scotland, especially in relation to mutual legal assistance requests and European Arrest Warrants. These networks provide the bottom-up relationships, trust and working [ractices that enable smooth and efficient cross-border judicial cooperation[23].

CASE STUDY: Vietnamese People Smuggling to the UK

In February 2011, a Eurojust co-ordinated operation involving five other countries resulted in nineteen arrests of individuals involved in the smuggling of thousands of illegal immigrants, mainly from Vietnam to the UK. For a full report see Eurojust website Large international operation against illegal immigrant smuggling networks.

Joint Investigation Teams (JITs):

The UK has launched and run dozens of successful JITs to date with other European national police forces and EU agencies. And the UK now strongly advocates it as a best practice form of international police and judicial cooperation. Since 2009, the UK has been involved in at least 15 JITs[24] covering serious crimes such as drug trafficking, trafficking in human beings, illegal immigration, fraud, money laundering, vehicle crime and cybercrime.[25]

CASE STUDY: JIT on Roma Women Trafficked to the UK for Prostitution

In 2011, a Joint Investigation Team was set up between the UK, Czech Republic and Eurojust targeting an organised criminal network trafficking Roma women from Czech Republic to the UK to work as prostitutes. Eurojust provided analytical and coordination support for the operation and helped to resolve potential conflicts of jurisdiction early. The JIT operation led to the arrest of 11 ringleaders within 3 months of being set up. See P. 21 here.

Other Examples, Facts and Figures:

  • Effective Customs Cooperation: Naples II,the Convention on mutual assistance and cooperation between customs administrations, allows for the exchange of info and admin assistance between customs authorities in order to combat the illicit trafficking of goods. For example, info gained from Naples II led to the UKBA's seizure of 1.2 tonnes of cocaine with a street value of £300m - the UKBA's biggest cocaine seizure ever[26].
  • European Criminal Records Information System (ECRIS): The European Criminal Records Information System became operational in April 2012 with 8 member states currently operating ECRIS. Since it came into effect, it has already enabled UK law enforcement authorities to obtain criminal records notifications of nearly 1,700 British nationals convicted of crimes elsewhere in the EU, and nearly 1,600 non-UK EU nationals who are being prosecuted in the UK[27]. The use of ECRIS is only set to grow exponentially over time as it becomes operational in more member states.
  • Mutual Recognition of Financial Penalties: Council Framework Decision on the application of the principle of mutual recognition to financial penaltiesbecame operational for the first time in 2010. In its first two years, it has enabled UK law enforcement authorities to enforce over £100,000 worth of fines to individuals and companies based elsewhere in the EU[28] and some 41 cases are being pursued under the measure[29]. The measure was proposed by the UK Government in response to two cases where foreign companies refused to pay fines for corporate failures: (i) Swedish company and ferry walkway collapse[30] and (ii) Austrian company and Heathrow tunnel collapse[31].
  • Prisoner Transfers: The EU's Prisoner Transfer Framework decision, which recently came into force in December 2011, should allow the UK to both improve rehabilitation outcomes and reduce the size of the British prison population by returning foreign national prisoners to the home EU member state. The transfer of the first batch of 24 non-UK EU prisoners is currently in the pipeline[32].
  • The Schengen Information System II,once it comes online in 2013/4, will deliver £465m in net benefits to the UK. It will provide real time alerts extending the reach of UK law enforcement into Europe covering missing persons, lost/ stolen ID and movement of people of interest to law enforcement agencies.SIS II will provide UK law enforcement authorities with real-time data on over 27,000 people subject to a European Arrest Warrant (nearly 50% of which relate to violent/sex crimes, drugs or terrorism offences), missing persons, persons assisting the judicial authorities and over 42 million alerts on lost or stolen property[33].
  • Simpler & Faster Info Exchange: 2006 Council Framework Decision on simplifying the exchange of information & intelligence between law enforcement authorities,establishes a simple form for information requests between law enforcement authorities with an 8 hour deadline for responses.
  • Psychoactive Drugs: Council Decision 2005 on information exchange, risk assessment and control of new psychoactive substances,provides for an early warning system for new psychoactive substances discovered across the 27 member states and for them to be banned across the EU. It enables UK identified measures to be banned across the EU, and for the UK to benefit from EU-wide capabilities and resources in terms of toxicology, forensic analysis, pharmacological and epidemiological studies. In 2011 alone, 49 new psychoactive substances were identified across all member states under the measure, just 6 of these had been identified by UK authorities and the largest number ever identified in one year[34]. The new substances included, in particular, new forms of cannabis/ skunk, amphetamines, mephedrones and so called 'legal highs'[35].
  • European Police Training College[36]:Provides 80-100 training courses to senior police officers across Europe every year. This provides a valuable mechanisms for bottom-up best practice sharing and development of new cross-border crime fighting techniques. Since it is hosted and led by the UK, it helps the UK lead on practical cross-border crime fighting
  • Networks: The various EU law enforcement and judicial networks - European Crime Prevention Network (EUCPN)[37],Liaison Officers Network[38], Liaison Magistrates Network[39] and European Judicial Network[40] - help facilitate cross-border crime, speed up trust and cooperation and allow for best practice sharing and development.
  • European Image Archiving System[41]:Enables the rapid exchange of images of and information about genuine and falsified documents helping to crack down on identity fraud and allows UK to benefit from EU-wide pool of forgery experts.
  • Mutual Recognition of Supervision Measures[42]: This will allow defendants awaiting trial for an offence in another member states to remain in their home country rather than being extradited and sometimes held in lengthy pre-trial detention (a oft cited complaint of the operation of the EAW).
  • Trials in Absentia:Jointly proposed by the UK[43], France and Germany, it seeks to prevent cases where individuals can be extradited under European Arrest Warrants without having been informed of a trial and having the opportunity defend themselves.
  • Conflicts of jurisdiction in criminal matters[44]:This measure helps prevent lengthy disputes between member states over who has jurisdiction in a particular criminal case by setting out a process for resolving disagreements early.

Notes

[1] SOCA Annual Report 2010-11 page 93

[21] Ibid