UK risks becoming 'refuge for foreign criminals'
The UK will be facing the risk of becoming a 'refuge for foreign criminals' if the government pressed going ahead with plans to repatriate justice powers from Brussels, Scotland's police chiefs have warned.
The Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (Acpos) warned the move would make it 'significantly' more difficult to identify and extradite criminal suspects from abroad.
According to the Telegraph, they particularly objected to opting out of the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) and a system that allows them to access the databases of forces on the Continent.
The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service also opposed the plan, warning foreign criminals would remain 'at large' on Scotland's streets with little or no information held about them, the report said.
Crime and policing legislation comes under the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in June this year, handing control of sensitive extradition and policing issues to EU judges.
Under the Lisbon Treaty, Britain must either opt out of every measure or allow the EU jurisdiction over all 135 pieces of European legislation, a substantial transfer of sovereignty.
Prime Minister David Cameron is under pressure from Tory MPs to show that he has won a new political 'settlement' that claws back or 'repatriates' powers from the EU, the report added.
The EAW system is controversial as Britons are automatically deported to the EU countries demanding their arrest, even for crimes that are not an offence in Britain.
In a submission to the Lords EU select committee, which is conducting an inquiry into the proposed opt-out, Acpos warned that the move would make the UK 'vulnerable to an increased risk of foreign criminals and criminality,' the report said.
According to the report, Kenny MacAskill, the Scottish Justice Minister, said no decision should be made to opt out with a 'clear and compelling case' it would be worth the potential disruption to tackling serious and organised crime.
The Coalition is split over the issue, with Liberal Democrats opposing leaving the system but most Tories wanting to pull out unless the EAW is reformed.
The UK Government submission to the committee said they were analyzing each justice measure the EU wants to take control of to examine their contribution to "public safety" and whether the same effect could be achieved using other mechanisms, the report added.