Exit from EU could be damaging

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Rob Wainwright: Director of Europol.

EUROPOL is involved in over 10,000 cross-border investigations each year

THIS may sound a little like scare-mongering but one negative benefit of Britain leaving the Union would be that it would automatically have to leave a little known organisation called Europol.

It is not a large operation, it does not have the power to initiate investigations, cannot arrest anyone, is not affiliated to Interpol (which has a completely different role) but is vital to the protection of member states against organised crime, money laundering and terrorism.

Europol is the European Union’s law enforcement agency whose main goal is to help achieve a safer Europe for the benefit of all EU citizens. They do this by assisting the European Union’s Member States in their fight against serious international crime and terrorism.

With almost 800 staff at headquarters in The Hague, it works closely with law enforcement agencies in the 28 EU Member States and has contacts with other non-EU partner states such as Australia, Canada, the USA and Norway.

Analysis is at the core of their activities and Europol employs around 100 criminal analysts who are among the best trained in Europe and it is they who constantly update European police agency knowledge based on the flow of information that is transferred through their offices on a day to day basis.

It doesn’t always work as is clear from the terrible events in Paris in late 2015, but the blame rests unfortunately with intelligence services in Belgium and France and other countries which have closely guarded their information about suspects. Much has been learnt from the breakdown of communications then and action is being taken to persuade intelligence agencies to improve their communications.

What is clear, however, is the Europol is involved in over 10,000 cross-border investigations each year and basically is positioned in many cases to take a piece of information from one country and by computer analysis match it with information from one or more other countries in order to predict or solve crimes.

The head of Europol, Rob Wainwright, a former British intelligence officer has confirmed that in the event that Britain does decide to leave the Union, it will have to leave Europol and although it may well be able to take a similar position to other non-EU partners, at a time when the threat of terrorism is increasing, no-one knows how such a change will affect the safety of Britain or indeed the whole of the EU.

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