Justice Secretary urges clarity with 200 days until Brexit.
The ability of Scotland’s police and prosecutors to plan for Brexit is being hampered by an “unacceptable” lack of clarity from the UK Government, Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf has said.
Following the Secretary of State for Scotland’s evidence to the Justice Committee last week, Mr Yousaf said there still remains “no answers to basic questions” on security and judicial co-operation with the EU.
He urged the UK Government to publish plans for what will happen to measures such as the European Arrest Warrant in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
Mr Yousaf said:
“With 200 days to go until Brexit, the complete lack of any clarity on our future security partnership with the EU is much worse than “suboptimal” – as the Secretary of State put it to Committee - it is unacceptable.
“We rely on measures like the European Arrest Warrant with which, for example, we might not have been able to bring a number of high-profile criminals to justice.
“This government has been consistently clear on the importance of safeguarding the close co-operation which Scottish police and prosecutors enjoy with their EU counterparts.”
Since 2011, over 760 people have been subject to court proceedings in a Scottish court after being arrested on a European Arrest Warrant.
In one example, a Polish national was arrested in Poland within 5 hours of issue of the arrest warrant, following a violent attack and murder in Edinburgh in January 2012. In 2009 Marek Harcar, a Slovakian national, was jailed for the murder of Moira Jones after being arrested on a European Arrest Warrant.
Mr Yousaf added:
“We are working with our law enforcement agencies to plan in case these co-operation arrangement fall away. With no answers to basic questions, this planning is complex and challenging.
“While I welcome that the UK Government’s White Paper finally acknowledged Scotland’s separate judicial system, we need to know what their plans are for security co-operation in the event of a no-deal. There is no guarantee that we can rely on a transition period, as the Secretary of State seemed to suggest.
“The clock is ticking and this is becoming increasingly urgent.”
In June, the Scottish Government published the Scotland’s Place in Europe: Security, Judicial Co-operation and Law Enforcement paper, detailing 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.