On 1 January 2021, the UK automatically forfeited its membership of Europol, Eurojust, the European Arrest Warrant and the Schengen Information System (SIS2). The SIS2 database is the most widely used security system across the EU, providing information and real-time alerts to police and border guards on criminal suspects, terrorists, traffickers and missing persons. The BBC reported that the UK police access the SIS2 database around half a billion times annually. Since having their SIS2 access removed, British police and crime agencies were forced to delete some 40,000 alerts for known criminals, who potentially pose a threat to our national security.
As mentioned above, the UK will also no longer be a member of the European Police Agency (Europol), which has previously assisted in the tracking and arrest of criminals thanks to the shared security mechanisms in place between the EU member states. In 2002, the European Arrest Warrant was introduced to expedite extradition procedures through a more streamlined and efficient process. It was initially designed to facilitate the transfer of criminal suspects or sentenced persons to the issuing state, to either face prosecution or serve a prison sentence. Without access to the European Arrest Warrant, which explicitly prevented states from refusing to extradite their own nationals, EU member states are no longer obliged to extradite their nationals to the UK. Under the legacy treaty arrangements of the European Convention on Extradition it is open to states to refuse to extradite their own nationals, although where they exercise this right they will ordinarily need to prosecute wanted individuals domestically. It has been suggested that there is clearly now a risk that the UK will find it more difficult to secure the return of serious criminals to the UK to face justice.
The Home Office has reacted to growing concerns about the proliferation of fake national ID cards, which can be used to travel within the EU as opposed to using a passport. Europol has previously warned that document fraud presents one of the most prevalent criminal activities associated with illegal immigration. Furthermore, the use of European national ID cards has been criticized by members of the Home Office as being “some of the most insecure and abused documents”.
EU citizens will be prohibited from entering the UK with a European ID Card from 1 October 2021 unless one of the following applies:
- You have Settled or Pre-settled Status under the EU Settlement Scheme;
- You have an EU Settlement Scheme family permit;
- You have a frontier worker permit;
- You are an S2 Healthcare Visitor;
- You are a Swiss Service Provider.
In these circumstances, you will be allowed to continue using your European ID card until at least 31 December 2025.
Introducing alternatives to the EU databases will pose a significant security challenge for the UK in the short-term. Without access to shared data, the UK will need to explore alternative avenues to obtaining information on individuals of potential concern. It will be challenging to implement a system capable of operating at the same scale and efficiency as it did previously, without the co-operation of the EU.
The information in these blogs is for general information purposes only and does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the information and law is current as of the date of publication it should be stressed that, due to the passage of time, this does not necessarily reflect the present legal position. Gherson accepts no responsibility for loss which may arise from accessing or reliance on information contained in these blogs. For formal advice on the current law please don’t hesitate to contact Gherson. Legal advice is only provided pursuant to a written agreement, identified as such, and signed by the client and by or on behalf of Gherson.