Justice secretary Michael Matheson calls for UK Government to ensure continued access to Europol
Michael Matheson said that the ability to share information quickly between law enforcement agencies was key to fighting crime across borders
Justice secretary Michael Matheson is urging the UK Government to opt in to a new European policing co-operation framework to ensure continued access to Europol.
The UK Government must indicate by January 2017 if it is to accept a new regulation on Europol.
Failure to do so would mean the UK will no longer be a member of the EU crime-fighting agency Europol from 1 May 1 2017.
This could have serious implications for the ability of police to share information.
Europol operates the SIENA network, which allows member states and forces such as Police Scotland to request information and intelligence from other states that can identify and arrest people who pose a threat to public safety and security.
Matheson is travelling to The Hague today to meet Europol director Rob Wainwright, and see first-hand the work of the UK Liaison Bureau, including the role played by Police Scotland’s seconded officer.
The Justice Secretary said: “The ability to share information quickly and co-ordinate operations with other law enforcement agencies through Europol is key to detecting, disrupting and detaining criminals across borders.
“That is necessary to keep Scotland and the rest of the UK safer from the threats of organised crime, cybercrime and terrorism.
“Europol supports the effective operation of the European Arrest Warrant through which Police Scotland has arrested 301 offenders, while 43 offenders have been returned to Scotland to face justice.
“European co-operation also gives our police practical support and expertise from the European Cybercrime Centre (EC3), and enhances their ability to locate missing persons, as well as tracking down fugitives.
“As the Home Secretary said recently, Europol has played an important role in keeping us safe. That is why I have written to her, pressing for the UK Government to end the uncertainty for our police and their law enforcement partners by making a decision to sign up to the revised Europol arrangements.”
Europol is currently supporting policing in Scotland in areas such as targeted pan-European housebreaking, human trafficking, child sexual exploitation and cybercrime.
It has also helped to co-ordinate action against misuse of private individuals’ computers to spread viruses or spam.
In July Crown Office figures showed that more than 500 cases have been heard in Scottish courts as a result of the European arrest warrant, while 367 people had been extradited from Scotland to face courts in Europe.
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