Delays to criminal data sharing inevitable in a no-deal scenario

Border Force officers to patrol land and sea borders in Northern Ireland may need to be seconded from elsewhere in the event of a no deal Brexit.

BORDER Force officers from other jurisdictions may be drafted into Northern Ireland in the event of a no deal Brexit.

A recruitment drive to deal with the EU exit was cancelled in Northern Ireland last year amid procedural controversy.

The Home Office apologised after The Irish News revealed applications were restricted to British passport holders only.

Border Force was also forced to remove a requirement in Northern Ireland for candidates to have two years' service in the police or armed forces following concerns raised by the Equality Commission.

Officers patrol both land and sea borders, alert police to people of potential interest and gather intelligence.

They would also search baggage, vehicles and cargo for illegal movement of people or goods, and check the immigration status of people arriving in, or departing from, the jurisdiction.

Border staff may now have to be seconded from elsewhere in the eventuality of an EU crash out.

Hired by the Home Office, there are concerns that inexperienced staff would become a target for dissident republicans after Brexit and in the eventuality of any checks being implemented either on or near the border.

The British government's Operation Yellowhammer document, which maps out worst case scenarios, notes that in the event of a no deal the UK will revert fully to 'third country status', which will impact on a number of legal treaties and agreements that assist with security arrangements across Europe.

A delay in accessing data such as criminal record checks, sex offenders registers and extraditing wanted suspects will immediately be felt by law enforcement.

Without an agreement EU justice measures will fall away on November 1 and Northern Ireland will be reliant on the 1957 Paris convention for extradition and the 1959 Act for the sharing of information between law enforcement.

PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Stephen Martin told a Home Office select committee last week that both are "slower, more bureaucratic and suboptimal in comparison to what we have now".

He said while these alternatives should work they will be "a lot clunkier" than the current system.

The Yellowhammer report notes that a legal basis for the seamless transfer of data "is not in place" and that "an adequacy assessment" of alternative arrangements "could take years".

It warns that "law enforcement data and information sharing between the UK and EU will be disrupted" in the eventuality of a no deal Brexit.

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