The post-Brexit replacement for the European arrest warrant is facing multiple legal challenges, Police Scotland has said.
Brexit has left the police force with “suboptimal measures” in place for dealing with crime across the continent, MSPs have been told, although the negative impacts have been “limited” so far.
But Holyrood’s policing committee heard that the legality of the fast-track arrangement introduced to replace the European Arrest Warrant is now facing challenges in the courts.
During an evidence session on the impact of Brexit, Police Scotland deputy chief constable Will Kerr told MSPs: “There’s a number of ongoing legal challenges to the United Kingdom in respect of extradition and the European Arrest Warrant, they will take some time to resolve.”
He explained that the replacement system retained “mandated time limits for surrender” to return suspects to Scotland quickly and an executive power of arrest for warrants issued from January 1 2021.
Assistant chief constable for organised crime and counter-terrorism, Patrick Campbell, gave the example of an alert Police Scotland received about a Polish man who was arrested in Glasgow in January and extradited back to Poland.
Another use of the new system was for the extradition of a wanted man arrested in Spain.
But both cases have been challenged and the first appeal is due to be heard at Edinburgh Sheriff Court in March.
“How that plays out and the process for the legal position, that will be established over the coming months,” he said.
“But in respect of operationally, and our ability to keep the communities of Scotland safe, the Europe Arrest Warrant and the replacement for it have worked well at this stage.”
He also said Scotland “still has a good relationship” across the European Union in relation to co-operation on crime but that the UK Government’s Brexit deal will have a negative impact on tackling cross-border crime.
“There is an understanding that the negotiated outcome has resulted in suboptimal measures being put in place across a number of different areas – there’s no getting away from that,” he said.
“But some of the contingency planning – the measures which have now been put in place for the loss of the European Arrest Warrant, and the framework that’s been put in place around that – has resulted in the continued aspect of arrests within Scotland and across the EU member states.”