Vera Baird DBE KC

Writer, Lecturer, Parliamentary Consultant and Co-Director of Astraea: Gender Justice

Brexit needs the best deal possible, not a no deal!

As the dark nights start to draw in, I think the Prime Minister will be having many dark days – wondering how to control her rebels over Brexit. The government are making a monumental hash up of this process, it is stumbling from crisis to crisis and as they do this they are failing to see the bigger picture and the damage they are doing to communities across our region.

In relation to policing, the Home Secretary needs to get a grip and start ensuring the various vital cooperation tools / mechanisms enabling the UK and the EU police forces to work together to prevent and tackle crime and threats to regional and national security are in place. He also needs to address the potential impact on the future incompatibility between EU and UK laws and the rights the UK could lose by falling out of the EU’s jurisdiction and legal framework. We need continued use of shared law enforcement databases and EU arrest warrants which have assisted Northumbria Police on many occasions, nationally last year 1,735 arrests were made in the UK and more than 10,000 people have been extradited since 2004. In 2017 the Schengen Information System (SIS) which is a European database used by the police to search for terrorist suspects, missing people and to check vehicle registrations and passport details was checked nearly 540 million times by police officers in the UK – it’s imperative that the Home Secretary and his department ensure that these services are still available to Northumbria Police after March 2019. Northumbria Police plays a vital role in national security and the safety of the public in our region and we can’t allow the good work police officers and staff undertake be put in jeopardy if the government doesn’t get its act together to ensure detailed arrangements are in place – we work with partners to tackle crime such as human trafficking and serious organised crimes and police officers need the tools to get the job done, not Boris and his cronies fighting for the next media headline.

Theresa May now needs to move away from accepting a possible “no deal” outcome on Brexit, as this will cause chaos and confusion for policing and security services. She has a duty to deliver the best deal possible that will ensure the continued safety of residents. We are fast approaching March 2019 and policing needs considerable additional resources at a local and national level for policing to operate using non-EU services, and in all reality, whatever is put in place to deal with a no-deal outcome will be an inferior standard to what is already in place. It is hoped that the government and EU will have agreed terms for leaving by October – that’s very optimistic as there is a great more deal work to be done.

I agree fully with Richard Martin, deputy assistant commissioner at the Metropolitan police and the NPCC lead on Brexit, when he said “it is in the interests of both sides to negotiate an arrangement that allows for continued close working, whether as part of existing mechanisms or negotiated alternatives. Without such arrangements, both UK police and EU member states will lose capabilities including identifying criminals and missing persons who cross our borders, detaining and swiftly surrendering suspects under EAWs, quickly identifying previous history of offending or the sharing biometric data”

There is a job to be done, Theresa May needs to get on with it and I stand with other Labour Police and Crime Commissioners across England and Wales demanding it is done with the interests of safety and delivering effective policing running through the heart of any deal.