Labour MEPs today warned any u-turn on opting back into the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) will hamper the fight against crime by making it harder to bring criminals to book.
Claude Moraes MEP, Labour MEP for London and chair of the European Parliament civil liberties, justice and home affairs committee, said:
"The EAW has been a major success, reducing extradition times to an average of 48 hours or less since 2004 when it came into force. Prior to this, it took months or even years or never happened at all. Hundreds of serious criminals and some terrorists have been prosecuted as an exact result of the EAW.
"British officers often compare the speedy extradition of Hussein Osman from Italy in 2005 under a European Arrest Warrant with the situation that prevailed in the 1990s when France and Germany would not extradite their own nationals.
"Labour has always said we need to reform the European Arrest Warrant in relation to issues such as proportionality in order to strengthen its advantages, but if David Cameron and Theresa May reverse their plans to opt back in to the EAW it will not be in the interest of the British people, but purely designed to meet the political needs of the Conservative Party."
Claude Moraes MEP added:
"This ideological obsession of the Tory Party with Europe ignores the basic, unavoidable facts that the UK has enjoyed hugely successful cross-border cooperation which has seen credible results to UK citizens. This display of political opportunism has the potential of causing serious damage to UK security and safety.
"As the single market and free movement has become a reality, so too has the increase in cross-border crimes. Drug trafficking, human trafficking, illegal immigration and terrorism are all crimes that now operate beyond national boundaries.
"It is exactly these types of cross-border issues EU justice and home affairs policy aims to prevent. Even in the past two years we have seen the UK sign up to EU legislation on protecting victims of crime, combating human trafficking and protecting citizens’ rights to data protection.
"In addition to this, and even more worrying, a decision to trigger the opt-out could pose a threat to national security as the UK would no longer be able to use agencies, shared databases, funding and instruments in law enforcement which the UK police force depend on so regularly to protect citizens."