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Lack of automated access to EU systems means 'better engagement'

Work with Interpol and Europol as well as extradition and intelligence sharing has continued within similar timescales

Replacements for the Euroepean Arrest Warrant and information sharing systems with Interpol are holding up following Brexit.

An update at the national policing summit heard operations against organised crime gangs, persons of interest and intelligence sharing has continued after Britain’s departure from the European Union.

Work with Interpol and Europol as well as extradition and intelligence sharing has continued within similar timescales, the NPCC APPC summit heard.

“We have reverted to doing what we do with every other country in the world. We are still able to deliver operational co-operation,” said Chris Jones, Director at the Home Office’s International Criminality Directorate.

That had included the continued prosecutions from material gained when the EncroChat mobile phone network was infiltrated by French and Dutch police.

Assistant Chief Constable Peter Ayling of Kent Police, the NPCC Brexit lead, revealed there are now 9,000 Interpol circulations a year and British forces are up to date.

But access to Schengen Information System II, which includes vehicle registration details, has been lost alongside direct access to the Prüm database for DNA or fingerprint record comparison with EU states.

Mr Ayling said: “With a more clunky system, yes, there or opportunities for things to slip through the net.”

But the conference heard that international law enforcement partners have also stepped up their responses and the new non-automated approach has led to better engagement.

In a recent case, a UK force only had a mobile phone number for a rape suspect. A request for support led to a name, a flight time and other details that resulted in the suspect being arrested at Gatwick airport.

“It wouldn’t have happened previously,” ACC Ayling said.

Matt Horne, the National Crime Agency lead on Operation Venetic, revealed UK forces have dealt with 200 threats to life and by April this year developed 2,682 packages of evidence.

“Operationally, we’re still able to deliver; our officers still are informed. My sense is we’re still engaged,” he said.

And Mr Jones confirmed that critical work between the Police Service of Northern Ireland and the Garda has continued uninterrupted despite the re-creation of a new border. 

Gwent Police and Crime Commissioner Jeff Cuthbert warned the UK wouldn’t be able to influence changes in the future.

“We are no longer involved in the strategic direction of Europol. It does mean that if the nature of crime shifts on the mainland of Europe the response could be very different,” he said.

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