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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Warning from police boss over Brexit consequences


* North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones.

A police boss has warned North Wales will be a more dangerous place if Britain votes to leave the European Union.

According to the newly-elected North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones, a former police inspector, the terrorist threat was a key reason to stay in Europe.

He believes the Paris and Brussels atrocities were stark reminders of what is at stake.

Mr Jones feared the European Police Office, known as Europol which contributes to more than 13,500 cross-border investigations every year, would be weakened if Britain withdrew from the EU.

In addition, life would also be made more difficult for other joint investigation teams tackling a range of crimes from terror to child abuse.

Mr Jones said: "We in North Wales are particularly vulnerable as we have in Holyhead one of the UK's major ports for entry from another EU member state.

"North Wales Police have always worked closely with the Republic of Ireland's Garda to safeguard traffic between our two countries but achieving the same levels of co-operation would be much more difficult in the event of the UK voting to leaving Europe.

"We know that the current UK terror threat remains severe, meaning that a terrorist attack in the UK is 'highly likely'.

"That means that those involved in law enforcement and safeguarding the public need to focus on doing just that and making use of the methods that we and our counterparts in Europe know work best.

"We are not part of the Schengen agreement so we already have border controls that other EU nations don't have and we have that vital sea barrier as well but we still need to work with governments and law enforcement and other agencies in the EU to keep our people safe.

"You only have to be on the A55 at 2am to appreciate the volume of road traffic that is heading to and from Ireland and that makes it vital that we liaise closely with our Irish counterparts.

"We would hope to use these measures to prevent terrorists getting into the country but if suspects are identified we need to be able to rely on our EU colleagues to apprehend them and we need to be able to rely on the evidence they gather to be presented in our courts.

"All that is currently available to us using current EU criminal justice and security measures and we would be unwise to jeopardise that by voting to leave the EU.

"The Brussels and Paris atrocities are a stark warning that we need even greater sharing of intelligence, pooling of resources and joint working across Europe.

"Outside the EU we would find it more difficult to respond quickly and forcefully to those who would threaten our communities and our values, and that's why there is a clear security case for us to stay in the EU."

Mr Jones was also concerned that a vote to leave Europe could trigger a further recession, particularly in rural communities in areas such as North Wales.

He added: "That could lead to a loss of income for farmers and increasing unemployment and rural depopulation and those factors could also make our countryside and its towns more prey to crime.

"I have the same commitment to our rural areas as my predecessor did and they deserve the same care and attention when it comes to ensuring the safety of the public."

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