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Friday, 11 October 2019 09:59

Brexit and Crime

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It has been widely reported that hate crimes have significantly increased due to racial tensions over Brexit. There have certainly been spikes in crimes such as malicious communication, verbal abuse and harassment on key Brexit dates. Perhaps in response, figures released by the Crown Prosecution Service late last year indicated harsher sentences for hate crime offences.

But what will happen post Brexit? Government investment in the public order training of over 10,000 officers may suggest civil unrest looms! In the event of protests or riots, around 1,000 officers are now qualified in tactics only used in Northern Ireland. This includes the use of armoured vehicles and water cannons, in the event of mass protests or riots following Brexit.
And after that? It appears organised criminal gangs are forecast to be a predominant beneficiary of our departure from the EU. The annual force management statement warns, “the repercussions of Brexit may create opportunities for organised criminal gangs". The Economist wrote, ‘for organised criminals, Brexit is perhaps the most promising rearrangement of the European scene since the fall of communism’. These dramatic predictions are founded on several factors. As a result of leaving the EU’s custom union, border tariffs on goods will hike up prices on imported goods. This may result in a substantial increase in the smuggling of items such as cigarettes, alcohol and diesel. A senior official has predicted Britain would see ‘an explosion of smuggling’. Leaving the customs union would also bring opportunities for shipping contraband through British ports and quiet coastal spots. People trafficking is also of grave concern. The increase of pressure on the labour market, due to restrictions on legal immigration, means opportunities for illegal migrants may be rife. As a result, the number of migrants working in the country illegally (both of their own free will and under duress) may rise.  


How will the police cope? Potentially not very well, as Brexit’s biggest advantage for the underworld may be weaker police intel. Danger of UK forces losing access to Europe-wide databases of wanted criminals has been raised. For example, Britain currently accesses a database maintained by the Schengen group of countries that allow passport-free travel. The database provides a wealth of information from missing persons to stolen cars. It allows police to corroborate and correlate information from around the continent. As if this wasn’t concern enough for police, we are also set to disengage with European Arrest Warrant (EAW). This warrant enables EU member countries to arrest and speedily extradite each other’s suspects. Not only will police lose the power to extradite suspects easily, British officers may also lose the right to lead cross-border operations. It has been predicted that this loss of intelligence, and enforcement co‐operation, may well incumber Britain’s capacity to confront prolific and serious offenders.

Read 232 times Last modified on Friday, 18 October 2019 11:39