atching criminals and terrorists could take longer under a no-deal Brexit, a senior Scotland Yard officer has warned.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Richard Martin fears the UK will lose access to a European police database which shares real-time alerts to combat serious crime.
The SIS II system was used 603 million times by 43 forces last year to detect criminals, terrorists and missing people.
DAC Martin spoke of a “worst-case scenario” where policing across Europe becomes “more bureaucratic, slower and complex”.
He said: “It will definitely be less smooth, more clunky and we won’t have the same capability that we have now, which is why we are trying to close that gap as much as we can.
“There is a pragmatism here for us preparing for the worst-case scenario.”
Each time a UK police officer checks a suspect or vehicle on the national police computer, it automatically links to the Schengen Information System (SIS II) of 27 member states to see if they are wanted overseas.
DAC Martin, the National Police Chiefs’ Council’s lead for Brexit, said: “The speed at which we get information and intelligence is key. It allows us to take some action right there and then, especially with that system.
“They might be dangerous in the community, or they might be wanted in Poland —for instance, for burglary.
“My officers can arrest them straightaway and take them into custody, which diminishes any risk they may pose to anybody in our communities.”
There are similar fears about whether the UK will retain access to European Criminal Records Information System that tells officers if a suspect has convictions abroad to use as a legal basis to deny bail.
Another system, Prüm, allows UK police to search European databases for DNA taken from crime scenes and suspects.
Mr Martin added: “If, for instance, a foreign national has committed a burglary over here and left some DNA, we can immediately make that exchange, identify them as a suspect and take action.
“For us, it is about arresting people who could cause risks to our communities in many different ways.
“It is the everyday action that most police forces would do and which the public would recognise.”
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has said the UK is seeking access to some of the tools used in the EU as part of “common sense co-operation”.
The International Crime Coordination Centre and a national extradition unit have been set up as a fallback so the UK doesn’t become a hotbed for foreign fugitives and Britons cannot flee to a new “Costa del Crime” on the continent.
If Britain starts next year without a deal, Mr Martin added: “At 12.01am on January 1, policing will carry on and we will use the fallback measures that we have been honing over the last 12 to 18 months. I want to make sure that criminals know that this is not a safe country to come to.
“The big difference will be that our work will be slightly more complex. We will not have real-time information in the same way we do now if we leave without a deal and lose those tools.
“We will rely on different systems, databases and agreements with partners over information sharing.
“It will add more complexity to the landscape, making things more bureaucratic, less visible and slightly slower than they are now, and we will have to rise to meet that occasion.
“All my interactions with foreign law enforcement have been positive.
“There is an absolute willingness to work with us in the future. It will just be the legal basis that we will need to iron out to make that happen.
“There is no halfway house. We are either in Europe and in Schengen or we are not.”
— to www.standard.co.uk