Financial crime and investigations

The European Arrest Warrant

The UK is currently a member of the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) scheme.  This enables an arrest warrant issued in one member state to be executed in any other member state in order to secure a person’s rapid removal to the requesting state. It replaced the separate extradition arrangements in place between each EU member state.

There has been controversy regarding the scheme in the past, and in particular the accusation that it was being used regarding very minor crimes and to surrender UK citizens to jurisdictions such as Greece where standards of trial process have been criticised. In November 2013, the UK Parliament’s Home Affairs Committee concluded that the EAW was “fundamentally flawed”, but parliament voted to stay in the scheme anyway.

According to the National Crime Agency, the annual level of requests from the UK for extradition of an individual from an EU member state has stayed relatively constant, ranging from 219 to 271, between 2010 and 2015. In 2015 150 people were arrested and 121 of those were sent to the UK as a result of EAWs issued by the UK.

Pro-Brexit politicians have stressed their desire to maintain cooperation with European authorities in combating crime.  Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Croatia are all members of the EAW scheme, despite not being members of the EU, and it is likely that, whatever model of relationship the UK attempts to secure with the EU, the UK will wish to retain some form of arrangement for mutual deportation procedures between states.

It is perhaps likely that, rather than remaining part of the EAW scheme, in which the UK will now have no say in any future changes, EU Member States will be designated “Category 2, Type A” states under the Extradition Act 2003 and therefore enjoy the same status as countries such as America. Requests for extradition from these territories need decisions by both the Secretary of State and the courts, so present a slower route to extradition than under the EAW, but still represent an enhanced level of cooperation between states.

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