UK plod could lose access to 79 million criminal alerts in event of a no-deal Brexit

European data sharing confined to underused Interpol database

Brit law enforcement bodies will no longer have access to 79 million alerts about potential criminals or persons of interest if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, a Parliamentary committee has heard.

The UK currently has access to the second-generation Schengen Information System (SIS II), a Europewide IT system that facilitates cooperation for law enforcement, immigration and border control purposes used across member states.

After 31 October, the UK will no longer be able to access SIS II and will instead only be able to use the Interpol's I-24/7, the global police communications system.

However, speaking at the Home Affairs committee about the Home Office preparations for Brexit, Richard Martin, deputy assistant commissioner of the National Police Chiefs' Council, said cops will have access to just hundreds of thousands of alerts, compared with 79 million on SIS II.

Committee chair Yvette Cooper commented: "That is a massive reduction. It is not just less; it is hugely less."

Martin said: "Just to add to that, it really is down to the individual member state how much they use I-24/7. To be fair, we have not been the greatest at using it either. Looking at missing people, as I said earlier on, we have 200,000-odd people go missing a year, and I think we probably put 10 people on the Interpol system last year, because we relied on SIS II. I would not be surprised if some of our member states do the same."

Steve Rodhouse, director general of operations at the National Crime Agency, said the body has manually uploaded 125,000 Interpol alerts onto the police national computer, so they will be available to be checked at the point of operational activity.

"A system has been put in place so that new Interpol alerts will be available through the police national computer. That is important, but it is not a complete mitigation of that risk."

But Rodhouse said he could not assure the committee that alerts about very serious criminals would be available on the Interpol system.

"What I cannot assure you is that countries that have put a SIS II alert on for a serious criminal will have replicated that on I-24/7. That may well not be the case, and that is one of the challenges." ®

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