The Extradition Bill, which means that criminals from the European Union will not be allowed to enter the UK after Brexit, is due to receive royal assent imminently. These tougher border laws mean that from January 2021 – when free movement ends – EU criminals will not be allowed into the UK if they have served more than a year in prison.
This is claimed to be part of the goal to make a “firmer and fairer approach” to the immigration system which will ensure the safety of our country. This has come to light recently as the EU’s open border system has been condemned by the former Secretary General of Interpol, Ronald Noble, as “an international passport-free zone for terrorists to execute attacks on the Continent and make their escape.”
The Home Secretary Priti Patel explained that action had to be taken because “For too long, EU rules have forced us to allow dangerous foreign criminals, who abuse our values and threaten our way of life, onto our streets,” suggesting that this bill will keep our country safe.
This is quite influential as it suggests that other criminals with a sentence of less than a year will possibly be included in the ban. However, this will be judged on a case by case basis depending on nationality and hereditary ties in the UK. Additionally, there is talk of those who have an existing criminal record from the last 12 months also being included in the ban, which implies the severity of the UK in its proposal. This hard-line approach from the Home Office is also implied in their report which states that criminals whose “presence in the UK is not conducive to the public good,” also have the potential to be banned.
Recently in Lesbos, the number of migrants in camps has reached its peak as the country was used as an escape route due to other EU countries tightening their border controls. It now seems as though the UK has decided to follow suit in terms of reviewing its immigration laws, but unlike Greece, this is mainly because it was promised as part of The Leave Campaign in the Brexit referendum in 2016.
Although this bill impacts criminals, most EU citizens are not affected as currently these changes do not apply to those protected by the Withdrawal Agreement, unless the individual concerned commits a crime from the 1st of January 2021.
Another major consequence of the Extradition Bill is that it will give the police in both the UK and abroad the power to immediately detain internationally wanted criminals. Previously, the police had to obtain a UK arrest warrant first, but this change now means that criminals will be arrested quicker and will not be able to travel in order to escape arrest. The new system will work with international arrest alerts being used by the specified country, which will then trigger further alerts to local police and courts, who would handle the extradition instead of the UK embassy or the Home Office.
Some might argue this bill is a turning point in the Brexit negotiations as it reinforces the hard Brexit approach the UK appears to be taking. It cuts down on immigration and attempts to make new laws which will separate us from European jurisdiction. It also emphasises the British public’s want for autonomy, and possibly a change in the general political consensus to increasingly right-wing preferences.
Written by Rosie Wiggin