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More information needed on post-Brexit policing, say MSPs

MSPs have called for greater clarity from the Scottish and UK Governments.

Policing: MSPs call for clarity.
Policing: MSPs call for clarity. STV

MSPs have called for greater clarity from the Scottish and UK Governments over how criminal justice and policing matters will be handled post-Brexit.

In a report published by Holyrood's Justice Committee on Thursday, it states further information on policing arrangements in the event of a no-deal scenario must be published by the UK Government "without delay".

It also urges the Scottish Government to share copies of its agendas, minutes and key planning papers around Brexit preparedness with the committee.

The report also asks that further information on discussions between Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf and UK Government ministers is provided.

MSPs further called on Scottish Secretary David Mundell to discuss the current state of relations between the Home Office and the Scottish Government.

It notes these "are not operating as they should do and are not as effective as those between the Scottish Government and the UK Ministry of Justice".

The committee said it intends to pay particular attention to the discussions between the two Governments on the future legislative and non-legislative common frameworks that will need to be negotiated.

The report states: "These frameworks will define how the UK and Scotland will co-operate on civil and criminal justice matters and policing after Brexit.

"We ask both Governments now for an update on the progress of their discussions so far and a detailed statement on what priorities both Governments see in relation to each of the common frameworks that will need to be put in place in the justice portfolio."

Committee convener Margaret Mitchell said: "The Justice Committee has considered and passed a lot of secondary legislation as efforts are made to prepare Scotland and the rest of the UK for leaving the EU.

"However, given the uncertainty about potentially adverse consequences of a no-deal scenario, and to allow policing and legal sectors to prepare fully, we need more information to be put into the public domain and shared with elected representatives."

The committee also cautioned against civil and criminal justice matters being overlooked as the wider Brexit debate focuses on issues such as economic links, immigration and the Northern Irish/Irish border.

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said: "A no-deal exit from the EU would result in Scotland losing access to many of the security and law enforcement co-operation measures Police Scotland and the Crown Office use on a daily basis to keep people safe. "We would also lose membership of Europol, use of the European Arrest Warrant and access to vital information-sharing arrangements.

"This would represent a significant downgrading of our policing and security capability at a time when cross border crime and security threats are increasing.

"Police Scotland is considering what actions could be taken to substitute these arrangements and is working with partners to prepare for any civil contingencies issues arising from Brexit."

Mr Yousaf added: "The reality is the UK is not, and cannot be, ready for a no-deal EU exit on Halloween - such an outcome would inevitably cause very significant disruption to the lives of ordinary citizens as well as to businesses and long-term harm to our economy.

"We will continue to press the UK Government to ensure this is avoided by taking no-deal off the table.

"Intensive EU exit preparation is under way, including our work with the Scottish Police Authority and Police Scotland. "I will continue to engage with the Justice Committee on all relevant issues."

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