Britain's border can be crossed by sea, air or rail at 113 major entry points and there are more than 270 smaller entry points including marinas and airstrips, however the absence of a trade deal with the EU after Brexit exposes potential "weaknesses and gaps" at ports and airports leaving Britain vulnerable to exploitation by crime gangs, claims government watchdog, National Audit Office (NAO).
"Government has openly accepted the border will be sub-optimal if there is no deal with the EU on 29 March 2019. It is not clear what sub-optimal means in practice, or how long this will last. But what is clear is that businesses and individuals who are reliant on the border running smoothly will pay the price." Amyas Morse, head of the NAO said in a statement.
The NAO's report, The UK border: preparedness for EU exit suggests and weaknesses within Britain's border will be quickly exploited by criminals.
"Organised criminals and others are likely to be quick to exploit any perceived weaknesses or gaps in the enforcement regime. This combined with the UK's potential loss of access to EU security, law enforcement and criminal justice tools, could create security weaknesses which the government would need to address urgently," the report states.
"They assume that most traders will declare the duties that they own but acknowledge that organised criminals could quickly exploit new vulnerabilities," the NAO report says.
There are risks to the border if the UK leaves the EU without an agreement on 29 March 2019. Even with an agreement, significant challenges lie ahead to deliver a fully functioning border, says today’s report: https://t.co/Ec66xds6OF pic.twitter.com/xD8O9OXlyt— NationalAuditOffice (@NAOorguk) October 24, 2018
The British government is heavily dependent on the flexibility and compliance of traders however papers reveal it is already too late to ensure "that all traders were properly prepared for a 'no deal,' according to the NAO.
The UK's Border Force has also raised concerns not enough staff will have gone through security checks and training to operate border controls by March 2019. HMRC estimates it will have to process 205 million more customs declarations if the UK leaves the EU with a 'no deal.'
A no deal could lead to delays for goods crossing the border and fewer checks on the people passing through however the government has said it will prioritise the safety and security of the flow of people and goods ahead of collecting the correct revenues.
Delivering an effective border after the UK leaves the EU is an enormous challenge, requiring significant coordination across government and with private sector organisations in a compressed timeframe. Read our latest report: https://t.co/rodg8hxoQb— NationalAuditOffice (@NAOorguk) October 24, 2018
Meanwhile the report published by the NAO suggests the government urgently addresses the gaps in border enforcement amid warnings organized crime gangs will pounce on any potential weakness in the border force system.
#Brexit More scare mongering by the National Audit Office @NAOorguk.The organised crime gangs have been here for decades, and increased when our borders were opened up to East Europeans. So to say that this MAY be happening at our borders after BREXIT is a lie. It already is!— Lynx Pilot (@Lynx_Pilot) October 24, 2018
European Arrest Warrant
The uncertainty surrounding Britain's borders in the event of a 'no deal' also applies to the potential validity of the European Arrest Warrant.
The European Arrest Warrant (EAW) is valid throughout all EU member states. Once an arrest warrant is issued, another member state is required to arrest and transfer the suspected criminal to the state issuing the warrant so the person can be tried for their crimes and jailed if necessary.
We need European Arrest warrant otherwise serious criminals can easily and cheaply hide in countries which have a lot more to offer than we do.— Sir arthur lawrence (@arthurlawrence5) October 24, 2018
"At present, it is uncertain whether the UK will be able to continue their participation within the Council Framework Decision of 13 June 2002 on the European Arrest Warrant and the surrender procedures between Member States," report Brexit & the European Arrest Warrant: How Will Change Affect the Interests of Citizens states. "Brexit poses a threat to the future stability and practice of extradition between the UK and EU Member States."
The warning issued by the NAO follows concerns by the National Crime Agency that efforts to tackle organized crime will be "significantly impacted" in the event of a no-Brexit deal. Lynne Owens, director general of the UK agency said her organization "was deeply concerned about the consequences of a no-deal Brexit" and the potential loss of shared information and cooperation across borders
The director-general of the National Crime Agency (NCA) has warned that the ability of UK police to tackle serious and organised crime could be “significantly impacted” by a no-deal Brexit. Lynne Owens said she was “deeply concerned” that withdrawal from the EU without a deal— CrimeLine (@CrimeLineLaw) October 24, 2018