The European Arrest Warrant has now been in force for ten years, having helped capture thousands of criminals attempting to flee the country where they committed their crimes. It has proven highly effective in helping to track down hundreds of UK criminals during that time, and more than 3,000 criminals have been extradited from the UK to countries where warrants have been issued for their arrest. The framework has not been without its controversies, but it has led to the arrest of thousands of criminals that would have otherwise walked free.
Every EU member state has signed up for the European Arrest Warrant framework, and while the warrant can only be issued for certain crimes, the involvement of the whole EU has helped to ensure that the warrant has become such a success. The framework was agreed upon 12 years ago, and the majority of countries signed up and started using the warrants ten years ago, with the exception of Italy who joined a year later.
The arrest warrant is not available for all crimes, although some of the controversy surrounding its use is concerned with the triviality of some crimes. In order for a European Arrest Warrant to be issued, the crime in question must have a maximum prison sentence of over 12 months. There have been cases of warrants issued for the theft of a piglet, and the possession of less than half a gram of cannabis but these are rare.
The Conservatives recently announced plans to walk away from EU policing agreements, including the European Arrest Warrant, but the move was blocked by their coalition Liberal Democrat partners. MEP Sarah Ludford is especially vocal in her support for the campaign, and is leading reforms to help make the system more efficient.
According to Ms Ludford, there have been hundreds of suspects extradited back to the UK since 2009. 63 of these were suspect of child sex offences, 44 for murder, and 27 for rape. 105 were wanted in relation to drug trafficking, and more than 4,000 suspects have been sent to other countries to answer questions regarding the crimes they are accused of.