Mark Lancaster MP column: Keep Britain safe

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Keeping Britain safe and secure Parliament is constantly looking for the best way to keep people safe and ensure those who cause us harm are brought to justice.

But we need to have the right legislative tools to help our police and law enforcement agencies protect us.

Mark Lancaster MP ENGPPP00120141001132028

Mark Lancaster MP ENGPPP00120141001132028

The Government wants these agencies to continue to have access to these tools, which take many forms. One example could be the European criminal records information system – a database that will allow us to deport foreign criminals and prevent them coming here in the first place.

Another, the prisoner transfer framework, which will allow us to get foreign criminals out of our prisons. But perhaps most importantly, the arrest warrant. This allows us to get people back to Britain to face justice – and kick out foreign criminals so they can face justice abroad.

Under Labour the Arrest Warrant was deeply flawed. It meant that British citizens could be extradited for trivial and minor offences or even languish for months, even years, in foreign prisons awaiting trial. But most worryingly be extradited for conduct in this country which is not against the law here.

That’s why the Government changed the law to stop these things happening. Since July when these new laws came into effect, dozens of Arrest Warrant applications have already been refused as a result.

In the last five years, more than 5,000 people have been extradited from the UK through the Arrest Warrant. They include suspects wanted for 124 murders, more than 100 rapes, nearly 500 serious assaults and seven terrorism cases.

In the same period, the Arrest Warrant has been used to return 647 people to this country to face justice. This list includes 51 suspected killers, 80 suspected paedophiles, 46 suspected violent thugs and one suspected terrorist.

Without the Arrest Warrant countries could refuse to extradite their own nationals to the UK. In the last five years alone more than 100 people from Germany, France and Spain have been returned to Britain to face justice – many for serious crimes including rape and murder. And even when extradition was allowed under the old rules, it was often after many years.

There is clear evidence that the Arrest Warrant works and without it many hundreds of victims would have been denied justice.