Brexit impact on cross-border crime co-operation

New paper highlights challenges faced by Scottish law enforcement.

Scotland’s police and prosecutors could face “complex and far-reaching” challenges in tackling cross-border crime after Brexit, a new paper has highlighted.

The latest in the series of ‘Scotland’s Place in Europe’ papers details the impact of withdrawing from the EU’s cross-border security, law enforcement and criminal justice co-operation measures without putting effective substitute arrangements in place.

The paper sets outs the Scottish Government’s view on the importance of protecting access to measures such as Europol, the European Arrest Warrant and Schengen Information System II as part of the UK and EU negotiations.

It emphasises the need for Scotland’s separate legal and judicial system to be taken into account during the negotiation process, including the importance of our law enforcement agencies maintaining direct links with their EU counterparts.

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson said:

“From cybercrime, to human trafficking and terrorism - international crime has never respected borders. Over the years Scotland’s police and prosecution services have built strong links with their EU counterparts to help keep people safe.

“Withdrawal from the current regime of co-operation, including for example the European Arrest Warrant system, could mean returning to a more fragmented system of seeking assistance across borders. We risk being left behind as our European counterparts develop more effective tools to deal with present and future threats.  

“Though we would prefer not to be leaving the EU, the Scottish Government stands ready to play a constructive role in exploring solutions. Our independent justice system means Scotland’s voice must be heard and we continue to push the UK Government for real and meaningful input into the negotiations with the EU.”

The Lord Advocate, James Wolffe QC, head of Scotland’s independent prosecution system said:

“It will be important, in the negotiations between the UK and the EU, that effective arrangements are agreed which maintain our collective capability for tackling crime and keeping our citizens safe.”


The paper, Scotland’s Place in Europe: Security, Judicial Co-operation and Law Enforcement, can be read on the Scottish Government website at

The paper outlines the series of EU measures which are vital in tackling cross-border crime, including:

  • Membership of Europol, which supports efforts to tackle terrorism, human trafficking and cybercrime.
  • The European Arrest Warrant, which has put in place procedures to transfer individuals quickly and smoothly between EU member states to face justice. In the last five years 70 extraditions to Scotland and 361 extraditions from Scotland were carried out under the European Arrest Warrant system.
  • The European Investigation Order which provides an effective system to request assistance in criminal investigations from other EU countries.
  • Schengen Information System II which facilitates real-time alerts on wanted or missing persons as well as stolen or missing property. In 2017 over 5,000 hit reports on UK alerts were received from EU partners.
  • Participation in Eurojust which facilitates judicial co-operation between Member States. It provides for the use of Joint Investigation Teams (JITs), which enables law enforcement to, for example, conduct joint searches and gather evidence in accordance with each country’s rules.
  • The European Protection Order which grants victims the same protection from their aggressor across Member States.


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