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Priti Patel’s optimism on post-Brexit security contradicted by experts

Saturday, 26 December 2020 4:10 PM  

Priti Patel has tried to put on a brave face on the security losses emanating from the end of the Brexit transition period on December 31


In her first reaction to the post-Brexit trade deal, Home Secretary, Priti Patel, has tried to spin the agreement in a positive light in term of British national security and public safety.  

According to Patel, the UK would be “more secure through firmer and fairer border controls” once the agreement comes into force on January 01, 2021.  

Patel maintains the UK would continue to be “one of the safest countries in the world” and that she is “immensely proud” of the trade agreement with the European Union (EU).

“It means both sides have effective tools to tackle serious crime and terrorism, protecting the public and bringing criminals to justice”, the hardline Home Secretary proclaimed.  

Patel is referencing the UK-EU post-Brexit trade deal – reportedly a 1,246-page document – whose contents have not been released to the public.

The House of Commons is set to ratify the deal on December 30.

However, the Home Secretary’s optimism is contradicted by some uncomfortable facts, notably the UK’s loss of access to critically important EU-wide crime and security related databases.

For a start, the UK will lose access to the EU’s Schengen Information System II (SIS II) database of alerts on people and sensitive items such as firearms and vehicles.

The EU leadership maintains that it is “legally impossible” to allow the UK access to the SIS database.   

Underscoring the gravity of the loss, Steve Rodhouse, who is director general of operations for the National Crime Agency, warned earlier this month that losing access to the database would mean alerts relating to around 400,000 investigations in EU countries would “disappear” from the UK’s national system on December 31.

“Investigations could take longer, and it could mean that serious criminals are not held to account as quickly”, Rodhouse claimed.

That view was echoed by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) lead for Brexit, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Richard Martin, who told House of Lords peers last month that the loss of SIS was a “capability gap” with “massive impact” on the UK.

Martin told the House of Lords that his team had checked the SIS system a staggering 603 million times in 2019 alone.

In addition, the UK is set to lose privileged access to the vast databases of Europol, the EU’s law enforcement agency.

Earlier this month, Max-Peter Ratzel, who led Europol from 2005 to 2009, said that even in the event of a post-Brexit agreement the UK can only settle for an “operational-partner” or “third-party” status relationship with the EU’s primary criminal intelligence body.

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