On Friday 26 March, the European Union Security and Justice Sub-Committee (“the Committee”) published its report Beyond Brexit: policing, law enforcement and security, which examines the impact of the provisions in the Trade and Cooperation Agreement 2020 (“TCA”) on the UK’s policing and law enforcement capabilities. Over the past three months, the Committee has held several evidence sessions in which it sought the views of current and former law enforcement officials on the new arrangements.
The report notes the successes of the TCA. In particular, it welcomes the explicit commitment by the UK and the EU to the rule of law, the European Convention of Human Rights and data protection principles and the retention of many cooperation and data-sharing capabilities, including provision for the ongoing exchange passenger name record data, biometric data, and criminal records data. Further, the report praises the “ambitious” extradition arrangements, which, though largely untested, closely mirror the foregoing arrangement under the Council Framework Decision 2002/584/JHA on the European Arrest Warrant.
Despite these successes, the report echoes the concerns expressed in both the evidence before it and elsewhere in the law enforcement and security community about the UK’s loss of access to the Schengen Information System (“SIS II”) and its real-time updates on missing and wanted persons. In place of SIS II, UK law enforcement will fall-back on the INTERPOL I-24/7 database but there are ongoing doubts about the adequacy of the I-24/7 database as a replacement. In particular, the success of the system is “heavily reliant” on the willingness of EU counterparts to enter the requisite information twice, on both the SIS II system, for their own benefit, and also on the I-24/7 database for the benefit of the UK. The report concludes that the Government has provided insufficient evidence about how the UK will ensure compliance with this process.
The Committee stopped short of drawing firm conclusions about the effectiveness of the TCA provisions at this early stage and recommended that Government keep Parliament up to date on the efficacy of the new arrangement and that successor Committees keep it under close review.