As the European Conservative spokesman on Security and all Justice matters in the European Parliament I'm currently the author of two pieces of legislation, one dealing with a new EU PNR (Passenger Names Records) system which will help detection of major criminals and terrorists if they enter Europe anywhere. This system uses the details of air passengers entering or travelling in Europe to identify, through patterns of behaviour, people who may be "of interest" to our Police or Intelligence Agencies. Without doubt it's going to enhance the vital and already developing co-operation between EU Intelligence Agencies and Police Forces to keep an eye on such people and to deter or detain them as appropriate before they can cause us any harm. Our own domestic system, which is already in place, with help from the French and others, has prevented at least 7 terrorist attacks on Britain in the last 18 months alone. Surely that on its own is a good reason to continue being active and positive members of the EU!
Also, I am now working on a significant enhancement of the ECRIS system (European Criminal Records Information System) which has for some time been exchanging the criminal records from all EU countries and allowing us to stop undesirables with records getting into the UK.
It has been very successful so far and that completely contradicts the inaccurate statements on the subject from Chris Grayling, Michael Gove, Dominic Raab (he especially should know better), Andrea Leadsom, and other activists in the "Leave campaign". The new report I am working on extends the ECRIS system to catch up with the records of third country individuals who might want to enter the EU and will offer greater protection to the whole of the Continent in future.
Of course, we also have the ongoing ability to stop people coming to Britain through our borders if they offer a threat to our National Security because we are not in the Schengen open borders zone.
On top of that we have Europol, the pan European police force, run by a British Officer Rob Wainwright and very much organized on UK lines, which is developing new policies to assist in preventing criminals and terrorists from entering the EU and working with the Border Agency FRONTEX in applying their scrutiny and intelligence gathering to the migrant flows on our borders.
And let's not forget the usefulness of the European Arrest Warrant which the Leave campaign attacks but which has transformed our ability to get back criminals from other parts of the EU who, previously, avoided justice for literally years, or altogether. Outside the EU we would have to go back to a system of trying to arrange bilateral agreements for extradition with individual countries and cases and the complications involved would be a real problem especially in this new fast moving criminal activity scenario that we have to combat.
It's simply not a good idea or a good time for us to be even considering leaving the EU. It would be frankly barmy!
As security spokesman, Former UK Home Office Minister, and a Lawyer, I have made a number of speeches on the subject both in the European Parliament and to organizations who are interested in these important security issues and I will be concentrating on this theme in an even wider context during the referendum campaign.
Timothy Kirkhope MEP