Lib Dem MEP Graham Watson Reports on EU Crime Success in West

December 23, 2013 3:51 PM

European arrest warrantsAhead of the 10th anniversary of the European Arrest Warrant, South West MEP for the Liberal Democrats Sir Graham Watson has published details of the successes and outcomes of European Union crime and judicial powers here in the South West.

The European Arrest Warrant, piloted through the European Parliament by Graham Watson, has been pivotal in the capture of some of Britain's most wanted criminals in the South West and nationwide.

The report, published today, outlines key successes since the introduction of the European Arrest Warrant. The most high profile being the capture of Hugo Quintas, who fled police capture after the murder of a pregnant Trowbridge woman. A European Arrest Warrant was issued and Mr Quintas was captured from Spain and brought back to the UK to face trial and ultimately prison.

Internal polling by Watson, through online and posted surveys to constituents, shows that 9 out of 10 people believe criminals should face justice in the country where they committed their crime. Just under 90% of respondents believe the European Arrest Warrant is a good thing for ensuring this happens.

Commenting, Watson said,

"The public are overwhelmingly supportive of any measure that can bring people to justice after fleeing the country as well as their responsibility for committing a crime. And there are examples right across the region of where the warrant has been issued.

"The EAW has brought down average extradition times from 9 months to just 43 days. This cuts down red tape, court and police costs as well as the emotional cost to a victim and their family.

As well as individual cases of serious crime, it is a vital tool for police forces in the battle to commit organised crime such as drug smuggling and paedophile rings. In both these cases, there are people behind bars today who would not have been without EU powers for our police forces to co-operate with their European partners.

"To pull out of measures such as the European Arrest Warrant, like UKIP and some Tories would want us to do, is madness. That is why it is opposed by the former head of Mi5 and the head of the Association of Police Chiefs."

But the MEP is also calling for some 'nut and bolt tightening' of the powers, to ensure that the warrant is not overused.

"We must ensure this tool is used only to combat serious and organised crime. Examples of warrants being issued for petty bike thefts are a waste of resources and bureaucracy. We've seen this legislation work to bring back murderers, terrorists and child abductors. Let's keep it focused on such ends."