Conservative MPs risk UK ability to catch criminals abroad
Originally published by East Midlands Liberal Democrats
Liberal Democrat MEP for East Midlands Bill Newton Dunn praised Crimestoppers' new project to track down nine of the UK's most wanted criminals hiding in Cyprus but warned it is under threat from Conservative backbenchers, who want the UK to pull out of the European measures that make this campaign possible.
Commenting, Bill Newton Dunn said:
"Crimestoppers clearly agree with UK police and security chiefs that when crime crosses borders, crime fighting must too.
"If some Conservatives get their way, this project is doomed. By denying our law enforcement authorities access to European Arrest Warrants and other cross-border cooperation, they will let hundreds of the UK's most wanted criminals escape British justice.
"Instead of serving their sentences, some of our most-wanted paedophiles, gangsters and other criminals would be able to enjoy the beaches of Cyrpus and other countries while the police fight a lengthy battle for their extradition.
"The European Arrest Warrant is by no means perfect but rather than working to improve it, Conservatives want to scrap this and other essential international crime measures altogether.
"This would make it much harder for the UK to fight against serious organised cross-border crime. Lord Ashcroft set up Crimestoppers UK so perhaps it is time he explained this to members of his own party."
Under 'Operation Zygos', Crimestoppers are appealing for information from Cypriots and the expat community on the whereabouts of nine individuals wanted under UK-issued European Arrest Warrants for serious crimes including child rape, adult rape, drug smuggling and tax fraud.
Operation Zygos, builds on the formidable success of another Crimestoppers initiative, 'Operation Captura', which led to 49 of the UK's most wanted being tracked down and arrested in Spain, and returned to the UK using the European Arrest Warrant.
Under the Lisbon Treaty, the British Government must decide by mid-2014 at the latest, whether Britain will continue to participate in existing European police and judicial cooperation measures, like the European Arrest Warrant.
Ahead of this decision, 102 backbench Conservative MPs signed a letter calling on the UK Government to withdraw from European Police Cooperation measures.
A group of senior former UK police and security chiefs has written to David Cameron and Nick Clegg urging them to keep the UK in European police cooperation measures.
Details on Operation Zygos can be found here: http://www.crimestoppers-uk.org/most-wanted/catching-criminals-in-cyprus.
Details on Operation Captura, the successful forerunner campaign, can be found here: http://www.crimestoppers-uk.org/most-wanted/catching-criminals-in-spain.