The Government has published an Impact Assessment (“IA”) following on from its announcement in the Queens Speech of a new piece of extradition legislation, the Extradition (Provisional Arrest) Bill to amend Part 2 of the Extradition Act 2003.
The rationale for intervention is that at present, law enforcement agencies are not able to arrest individuals who are wanted by non-EU countries without first obtaining a warrant. If a police officer encounters a person whom they know to be wanted by a non-EU state, they are powerless to arrest them without first attending court to obtain a warrant. There is however no guarantee that the officer will know the whereabouts of the wanted person a by the time of issue of the domestic warrant.
There is a further concern that in the event that the UK exists the European Union without a deal or the formation of any future security partnership which does not support the retention of EU Member States within Part 1 of the Extradition Act, then this warrant requirement would extend to persons wanted in EU Member States as well. This would potentially impact a large number of cases. In 2018/19 15,540 requests were made under the European Arrest Warrant process.
The IA notes that unlike the UK, a number of countries already have the power for law enforcement to arrest an individual on the basis of an INTERPOL Red Notice. A number of these countries operate this power on a reciprocal basis, and the new UK power will allow it to benefit from these arrangements.
Although the IA recognises the relatively low figures of relevant (Part 2) requests each year, approximately 100, it emphasises the need to consider the potential change in status of EU Member States should the UK lose access to the European Arrest Warrant scheme following Brexit. The new power would only apply to ‘trusted countries’ (those who respect the international rules based system and whose Red Notice and Criminal Justice Systems the UK trusts) and in relation to serious offences.
The IA emphasises the Government’s preferred position as the introduction of new legislation. In the absence of additional legislation, the police may become aware that an individual is wanted for a serious crime by a trusted international partner.
The Government does not anticipate any costs associated with the legislative changes. There will be no attendant training costs etc as law enforcement will merely be exercising a familiar power in a new way. The change in law is anticipated by government to expedite the arrest of offenders and may reduce the harm to UK society, in reducing the risk of individuals committing crimes while awaiting arrest. The IA acknowledges the potential political and trade risks associated with the designation of only certain countries as ‘trusted’ partners. This risk is however, uncertain and cannot be quantified.
Implementation of the changes to the legislation, codes of practice and court rules is envisaged before the end of 2020.
Categories: United Kingdom