On 14 March 2018, RUSI’s Strategic Hub for Organised Crime Research (SHOC) convened a workshop to explore future scenarios of EU-UK police cooperation after Brexit. Organised in partnership with the Department of Politics, Languages and International Studies at the University of Bath, the workshop brought together representatives from government, law enforcement and academia to discuss challenges and opportunities for the EU-UK joint actions against serious and organised crime.
Brexit poses several challenges to UK–EU police cooperation. Both sides agree on the need to keep working together to tackle serious and organised crime. However, the modalities of this cooperation are still unclear, since there is no precedent for non-EU or non-Schengen members accessing the full range of EU police and criminal justice tools.
Session 1 – Brexit and UK-EU Police Cooperation: What Next?
The workshop was opened by Jennifer Parfrement-Hopkins, from the OSCT Research and Analysis group at the Home Office, who shared her experience of the EU Research Network on Organised Crime, an inter-disciplinary European research community funded by the European Commission. It was clear that, while maintaining the network required substantial time and resource, the opportunity for practitioners and researchers from different countries to come together and offer different perspectives on organised crime represents a real benefit, and one that could hopefully be continued regardless of the outcome of Brexit.
The first panel, chaired by RUSI’s Aurora Ganz, looked at possible scenarios for post-Brexit UK–EU cooperation. Richard Martin, Deputy Assistant Commissioner at the UK Metropolitan Police Service, outlined the main EU instruments that enable and simplify judicial and policing cooperation. Harriet Deane, co-author of a recent research paper on ‘Post-Brexit Law Enforcement Cooperation’, explored the political and operational challenges that Brexit poses to police cooperation, once the UK has left the Union. Discussions focused particularly on the future of Europol and SIS II. Rob Jones, Deputy Europe Director at the Home Office, gave insights into the negotiation process and some of the most challenging issues that divide London and Brussels.
There was general agreement on the importance of maintaining close cooperation and finding ways not to jeopardise the existing framework. Compared to other multilateral and international tools, EU instruments allows faster and more efficient responses, especially in terms of data-sharing and cross-border prosecution.
Session 2 – Case Studies
The second panel, chaired by Gemma Davies, Senior Lecturer at Northumbria University, explored the implications of Brexit on UK–EU cooperation in specific cases. Ian Cruxton, Deputy Director of International Operations at the National Crime Agency (NCA) defended the need for globalised responses in the face of globalised threats, exploring what he defined as the ‘technological arms race’ between criminals and law enforcement.
Dr Helena Farrand-Carrapico, Co-Director of the Aston Centre for Europe, examined how cooperation on cybersecurity may be affected by Brexit. She discussed what could happen to the European Cybersecurity Centre (EC3), ENISA and the Joint Cybercrime Action Taskforce (J-CAT) in the face of increasing uncertainty.
Professor Tim J Wilson, from the University of Northumbria, looked at how the UK’s borders could be affected by Brexit. An important question will be where the border crossings lie in a post-Brexit arrangement. He questioned how they will be policed and whether the government really envisages more extensive immigration enforcement by a border force that is already stretched and a Home Office that is struggling to deal with the countless statutes and guidelines that make up the UK’s unconsolidated immigration laws.
The security implications of Brexit will continue to dominate headlines throughout 2018 and beyond. SHOC will closely monitor this situation and provide a platform for open and free discussion on this and other issues of national and international importance. Brexit, cross-border information sharing and law enforcement cooperation will continue to be a priority area for law enforcement agencies and policymakers across Europe in the coming years. Throughout this time, SHOC will endeavour to bring together a diverse range of representatives from across Europe to work together to address these complex challenges.