London's Security after Brexit

MQT on 2017-09-14
Session date: 
September 14, 2017
Question By: 
Len Duvall OBE
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


Are you concerned about the impact of Brexit on London's security, for example in regard to the MPS being able to access the critical data it needs to protect London from terrorist threats as links with the EU are loosened?


Answer for London's Security after Brexit

Answer for London's Security after Brexit

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Thank you, Deputy Chairman.  It is important that the Brexit deal for the UK is the right one for London.  I have and will continue to work to protect London’s interests and I am working to strengthen London’s ties further with cities in Europe.  In March 2017 following the atrocious terrorist attacks I visited Brussels and Paris.  As part of these visits we also discussed security co‑operation post-Brexit.  It continues to be important that we learn from each other and show solidarity in the face of an assault on our shared values of life.  My most important message throughout this has been that we approach Brexit in the right spirit, confidently and with the goal of ensuring continued security for London.


Counterterrorism, of course, is a particular area where future security co‑operation is important but we must remember that the use of tools such as the European Arrest Warrant, Europol, the European Criminal Records Information System, passenger name records and the Schengen Information System have a significant role to play in the fight against crime in general.  Terrorism is not the only crime that crosses borders and for many years police have been deployed overseas to assist in the collective effort against all crime.  On the whole, there is consensus that it is in the interests of both the UK and the EU that that co‑operation on security continues.  It is essential that the Government prioritises security and moves quickly to settle future security co‑operation.  The tools I have mentioned have all been identified by senior colleagues in the MPS as significant and are in need of being maintained or replaced.  As part of the negotiation, the voices of experienced officers and security experts must be taken into account.


Finally, nationally the National Police Chiefs’ Council and the National Crime Agency are undertaking work to ascertain the operational requirements post-Brexit and MOPAC is involved in these discussions.


Len Duvall AM:  Thank you very much, Mr Mayor.  Can I just say?  Look, I agree with you and I am not making party political issues.  It is very complex what the Government is trying to do, whatever the outcome.  Whether we disagree with them or not, this is one issue where there should not be allowed any drift or uncertainty and we should be further ahead of the game than where we are.


The House of Lords EU Committee has done a very useful piece of work highlighting some of the difficulties around this, particularly about data-sharing and Europol.  We now need to step up.  I know that you do regularly meet with the Home Secretary, but we need some action.  I would not normally put you on the spot now, but this is the sort of action that we might need.  Can you seek an urgent meeting with the Home Secretary to gauge some progress on this matter?


We know there are some important issues around legal jurisdiction, but we must have a sense of movement that does not just rely on goodwill.  We all know it is in our interests to do this but we actually need to do it.  Confusion and uncertainty means that the people that operate the service will start to take decisions and it will become slower.  The slower those decisions are taken, there will be a tragedy.  There will be many tragedies on the back of this if we do not get this right.  Therefore, what I am asking you to do is urgently met with the Home Secretary.


Will you also link up with Police and Crime Commissioners across the country?  London’s MPS is not just dealing with London.  We have a sense of leadership for the rest of policing in London.  Would you make them have common cause with the Government so that it has a sense of urgency to get on with this matter and to be clear about the direction that we are traveling?


Will you also contact your counterparts in other devolved assemblies and parliaments like Scotland and Wales?  Northern Ireland is a bit difficult at the moment, granted, but there are interested political parties there that I am sure would share the common cause of moving this issue on further.  We cannot risk drift and at the moment there is too much concentration and rightly so.  They need to be able to twin-track.  However, this is so important in terms of security for London, for this nation and for Europe.  It is in our interests but we cannot rely on that.  It does not work that way.  We need to move forward.


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Can I, Deputy Chairman, respond to that powerful question?  As a consequence of the House of Lords EU Committee report and the representations made by Assembly Member Duvall, I will give some thought to how we can accelerate the reassurance that we need, working with the Police and Crime Commissioners and the devolved administrations to get this reassurance.


I will just say this by way of reassurance to Londoners.  In the meantime, of course, all these things are still in play.  The concern that Assembly Member Duvall is alluding to is what happens if, for example, there is no transitional deal in March 2019.  Question: do we fall off the cliff-edge when it comes to security matters as well?  I have been quite clear that security must not be used as a bargaining chip.  There was some confusion in the media about what members of the Government were saying in relation to this.


The evidence given by our police officers to that Committee should worry us if there is no deal done in relation to security.  Some of the questions in relation to Europol passenger name records and access to criminal records are the sorts of gaps that could lead to the safety of Londoners being jeopardised.  Let me work on how I can accelerate the reassurance that we all need to make sure that the cross-borders work that takes place, which has led to people being brought back to London to face justice, for example, terrorists, which has led to dangerous people not being allowed to come here, which has led to good working together to investigate crime carries on after we leave the EU.  I will do that and I will then write back to Assembly Member Duvall to let him know what action I have taken, because he can then pass on the action we have taken as a consequence.


Len Duvall AM:  Thank you.