Leaving the European Union would stop innocent British citizens from languishing in foreign prisons, U.K. politicians claimed as they campaigned for Brexit. The reality is it may also make it harder to extradite criminals to stand trial in the country.
The EU has used the European Arrest Warrant — valid through the 28-nation bloc — to streamline extradition procedures since 2004, and the results are tangible. Before EAWs, fewer than 60 people a year were sent by the U.K. to other countries to face criminal charges. Since then, more than 7,000 have been expelled to EU member states alone and 1,000 brought back to face trial, according to data from the U.K. National Crime Agency.
The June 23 vote to leave the EU will mean the U.K. won’t be a party to the rules underpinning the EAW once it completes the Brexit process. If the government isn’t able to negotiate a similar deal, it could have a big effect on its ability to bring criminals to justice.
In light of the changes that have been made in recent years, it’s unlikely the U.K. would want to overhaul the whole process if it can be avoided, according to Edward Grange, a lawyer at Corker Binning in London.
“There has been a lot of investment in both time and money in seeking to improve the operation of the EAW over the last decade,” Grange said. “The possibility of going back to square one would be unwelcome by many.”
Read the full article in Bloomberg here.