Harris says six decades of policing co-operation will ‘fall away’ post-Brexit

Garda Commissioner says until there is a deal between UK and EU ‘it’s not going to be the same’

 Garda Commissioner Drew Harris at Garda Headquarters in Harcourt St, Dublin, where he  published  a new Garda Operating Model. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris at Garda Headquarters in Harcourt St, Dublin, where he published a new Garda Operating Model. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

 

Security and Crime Editor

Six decades of co-operation in law enforcement across Europe will “fall away” after Brexit takes place, Garda Commissioner Drew Harris has warned.

However, he insisted the Garda is determined to ensure Ireland remains safe.

Mr Harris said he and the senior management teams in the PSNI and police agencies in Britain were not idle bystanders, saying information on national security is widely shared with other European countries.

“The sharing of information, the joint operations, will all carry on; the investigations will all carry on,” he said.

“We, and I know the chief constable of the PSNI, are not going to sit idly by and allow a threat to just develop. We will be acting and acting decisively; to conduct investigations, seeking intelligence and following through on that.

“We are not idle bystanders just watching this. People can be assured we will be doing all we can to protect the people of Ireland.”

He said the Brexit process had created a very significant challenge in relation to Britain suddenly being outside current arrangements that work across the EU and facilitate cross-border law enforcement and crime fighting cooperation.

“Undoubtedly with Brexit, and it is a fact that a lot of the criminal justice treaties the UK is presently a member of, will fall away for the United Kingdom. And that is not going to simplify policing,” Mr Harris said.

“But we are in constant operational contact with our colleagues in the PSNI and across the Irish Sea to the United Kingdom’s National Crime Agency. So our relationships are good and we’re working through what the specific issues might be.

“At the same time, it is a fact that the UK, through Brexit, is losing access to a lot of the EU’s criminal justice treaties and the investigative provisions that apply. We can’t avoid that and we have to mitigate that as much as we can in terms of our operational work with the PSNI.

“We’ll want to make sure that we are still able to share information but if one thinks that the treaty we will fall back to was written in 1959; so 60 years of improvement is going to fall away in terms of the development of criminal justice cooperation across Europe.

“It’s not going to be the same. We can’t make it the same until there is some agreement between the United Kingdom and the EU in respect of co-operation on criminal justice matters. It is of concern.”

However, he added the Garda and PSNI were well-used to policing the Border area and that Garda resources in that region had been “built up” over the past 18 months.

“We are dedicated to making sure that that (Border area) remains an area where the rule of law applies. We will be there to keep people safe, we will be there to deal with smuggling, as we are at the moment, and organised crime and terrorists.”