Challenges in tackling cross-border crime after Brexit highlighted

James Wolffe QC

Scotland’s police and prosecutors could face “complex and far-reaching” challenges in tackling cross-border crime after Brexit, a new paper has suggested.

The latest in the series of ‘Scotland’s Place in Europe’ papers details the impact of withdrawing from the EU’s cross-border security, law enforcement and criminal justice co-operation measures without putting effective substitute arrangements in place.

The paper sets outs the Scottish government’s view on the importance of protecting access to measures such as Europol, the European Arrest Warrant and Schengen Information System II as part of the UK and EU negotiations.

It emphasises the need for Scotland’s separate legal and judicial system to be taken into account during the negotiation process, including the importance of our law enforcement agencies maintaining direct links with their EU counterparts.

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson said: “From cybercrime, to human trafficking and terrorism - international crime has never respected borders. Over the years Scotland’s police and prosecution services have built strong links with their EU counterparts to help keep people safe.

“Withdrawal from the current regime of co-operation, incluBding for example the European Arrest Warrant system, could mean returning to a more fragmented system of seeking assistance across borders. We risk being left behind as our European counterparts develop more effective tools to deal with present and future threats.

“Though we would prefer not to be leaving the EU, the Scottish Government stands ready to play a constructive role in exploring solutions. Our independent justice system means Scotland’s voice must be heard and we continue to push the UK Government for real and meaningful input into the negotiations with the EU.”

The Lord Advocate, James Wolffe QC, said: “It will be important, in the negotiations between the UK and the EU, that effective arrangements are agreed which maintain our collective capability for tackling crime and keeping our citizens safe.”