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16 November 2016

Brexit may complicate criminal extraditions, warns QC

Scotland's senior law officer has warned that the UK risks becoming a 'safe haven' for criminals once it leaves the European Union.

By Kathryn Higgins


Lord Advocate James Wollfe QC commented that the UK may struggle to extradite criminals who have committed crimes in other countries once it distances itself from extradition frameworks established by the European Union. Institutions that facilitate cross-border collaboration between police and prosecutors, as well measures such as the European Arrest Warrant system for criminal extradition, have helped the UK deal effectively and collaboratively with the issue of cross-border crime. However, as criminal activity shows less and less respect for the confines of national borders, the UK risks becoming a haven for individuals who have committed crimes in other countries unless it takes steps to ensure it can maintain collaborative relationships and common extradition mechanisms with law enforcements agencies across the EU.

Extradition to become ‘more cumbersome’

He commented: ‘The time it takes to secure extradition from EU member states has been significantly reduced as a result of the [European Arrest Warrant] system and through the close cooperation with EU states which we now enjoy…without it, the process of extradition would become slower and more cumbersome.’ In the last year, Scotland alone has made 400 requests to prosecutors through the European Judicial Network for assistance with extraditions or the recovery of evidence. Over the last five years, 541 of the cases tried in Scottish courts arose from an arrest on a European Arrest Warrant, and 367 individuals have been extradited from Scotland using the procedure.

Sources: Aberdeen Evening Express; Glasgow Evening Times

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