Northern Ireland news

Senior PSNI officer warns of dangers of putting officers in front line of no deal Brexit

PSNI Deputy Assistant Chief Constable Stephen Martin

DEPUTY Chief Constable Stephen Martin has warned that if the PSNI is forced to protect other agencies carrying out border checks in the event of a no deal Brexit it would put his officers at risk of attack.

The 'Yellowhammer' document published by the British government this week confirmed that a commitment to no new checks on the northern side of the border "is likely to prove unsustainable due to significant economic, legal and biosecurity risks".

DCC Martin said while these are not primarily policing roles, the PSNI may have to provide security for other agencies whose staff would be at risk.

"We are striving not to securitise the border," he said, but added that acting in support of others in the event of a disorderly Brexit would put his officers "at risk of attack".

He also pointed to slower arrangements for the extradition of criminals without access to the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) system.

Between September 2018 and August 2019, the PSNI made 38 EAW applications - 26 to the Republic and 12 to other EU states including Poland, Lithuania, Romania.

Read More: 'Civil disobedience' would follow if border checks introduced in rural communities

Some of those remain outstanding, with police facing having to fall back on the 1957 European Convention on Extradition after Brexit.

"The UK government and Republic of Ireland say they will extradite by way of the '57 Act, that is the case and will be the case in a disorganised no deal Brexit," Mr Martin said.

"We expect those arrangements will be tested within judicial system, as is people's right.

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"We have a land border therefore people have sought to exploit that. The good thing about European Arrest Warrant is that it was was tested, stood up to challenge and was quick."

Germany has already said it will not extradite under the 1957 convention. Mr Martin says this will not create a crime haven but will mean that German nationals cannot be brought to the UK unless a deal is agreed.

France, Austria, Bulgaria and Poland have also indicated that they will refuse to extradite their citizens to the UK outside of the current EU arrangements.

"Effectively that's going to take us back to where we were before the European Arrest Warrant, with a judicial process in each jurisdiction," DCC Martin said.

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

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