UK Home Secretary Priti Patel has pledged that the UK would continue to be one of the safest countries in the world even after its exit from the European Union (EU), which came into effect in the New Year.
The British Indian senior hailed the UK’s new comprehensive security agreement with the EU, which include a range of fast and effective security capabilities agreed with the EU to help bear down on criminals and bring them to justice.
She said: “The safety and security of UK citizens is the government’s top priority and the UK will continue to be one of the safest countries in the world.
“I’m immensely proud of the comprehensive package of capabilities we’ve agreed with the EU. It means both sides have effective tools to tackle serious crime and terrorism, protecting the public and bringing criminals to justice. But we will also seize this historic opportunity to make the UK safer and more secure through firmer and fairer border controls.”
The Home Office says this is the first time the EU has agreed such a comprehensive agreement with a third country in this area. It ensures the UK can work with counterparts across Europe to tackle serious crime and terrorism, protecting the public and bringing criminals to justice.
Measures agreed include:
streamlined extradition arrangements
an arrangement enabling the fast and effective exchange of national DNA, fingerprint and vehicle registration data via the Prüm system to aid law enforcement agencies in investigating crime and terrorism
continued operational co-operation with Europol and Eurojust that reflect the scale of our contribution to these agencies
arrangements enabling the fast and effective exchange of criminal records data via shared technical infrastructure
arrangements providing for continued transfers of Passenger Name Record data to protect the public from serious crime and terrorism
Since January 1, free movement has ended and tougher border rules for EU criminals will come into force. Under these changes, foreign sentenced to more than a year in jail will be banned from entering the UK.
The UK Home Office said it will also make it harder for criminals to operate and smuggle illicit commodities such as guns and drugs into the country. From July 2021, the UK will start receiving advance data on all goods coming from the EU into Great Britain, something which has not previously been possible under EU rules.
The UK is also phasing out the use of insecure identity documents used to enter the UK. From 1 October 2021, the UK will refuse to recognise European Economic Area (EEA) and Swiss national identity cards, which the government says are some of the most insecure and abused seen at the border and often used by organised crime groups.
The government is also providing the police with more powers to protect the public and since January 1, the police have the power to detain fugitives wanted by close partner countries immediately without having to apply for a UK arrest warrant first.
“This means that criminals will be brought to justice faster,” the Home Office said.