23:24 GMT22 February 2020
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    A year ago a senior UK police officer warned Britain would be "less safe" if it lost access to a key EU-wide database after Brexit. Former UK police officer and counter-terrorism expert David Lowe explains why he thinks access will not be cut off.

    Britain has left the European Union but the country’s law enforcement agencies still retain close ties with police forces across the 27-member bloc.

    For months before the milestone event, one of their biggest concerns for Britain was losing access to the Schengen Information System (SIS), with the National Police Chiefs' Council lead for Brexit, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Richard Martin, saying in February 2019 that London was "making 539 million checks a year on SIS."

    As of now, if an individual is arrested or their name comes up during a police investigation in the UK an officer checks the Police National Computer, which will automatically make a search of SIS if they are an EU national.

    Currently 17 percent of people who end up in custody suites in the UK are foreign nationals, a rate that goes up to 27 percent in London.

    Mr Martin said it usually took at most six days to find out if an EU national has a criminal record in their home country or on the continent but if Britain lost access to SIS it could take up to 66 days to get the necessary information from their police databases.

    He said if it took 66 days to find out from the Polish authorities if an arrested person was wanted for murder in Poland, there was a "very high possibility" they would abscond or be wrongly given bail.

    David Lowe, a former police officer and senior research fellow at Leeds Beckett University, said: “It’s a two-way street. We have used the European Arrest Warrant and assisted them and we have passed over a lot of intelligence. In 2018 there were at least three terrorist plots which the UK found and passed over to France. It’s mutually beneficial.”

    Sputnik News understands that access to SIS has been granted during the 11-month transitional period but no agreement has been reached beyond December 2020 and negotiations have not even started.

    ​The National Police Chiefs Council is believed to be pressing the government to ensure UK police retain access to SIS and also want to keep some form of European Arrest Warrant.

    He said British police needed to continue to work closely with EU law enforcement agencies because of the Islamist threat and also the danger presented by white supremacist and other nationalist groups, who often worked together.

    “Money talks and I think we will have from December some form of trade deal and we will become like Norway, Switzerland or Iceland, where we can work with Europe and have access to SIS,” Lowe believes.

    “Organised crime and terrorists do not recognise geographical boundaries. Traffickers operate across Europe and criminals can jump on a Eurostar. We are still in Europe, just not in the EU,” Mr Lowe said.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    terrorism, Brexit, European Union, United Kingdom
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