The Prime Minister has made it no clearer whether we will remain a member of EUROPOL following Brexit and now the Home Secretary has muddied the waters further.
Each time I ask if our police and security services will have continued access to EUROPOL, which enables them to share information on criminals with our European allies, I get no concrete response.
We must remember that there are two parts of the Brexit process before us: the Withdrawal Agreement and the political declaration. The two are inextricably linked, but only one is legally binding. The Withdrawal Agreement contains no international law agreement which will give the UK access to EUROPOL. The political declaration, which can be ignored, talks of ‘wishes’ ‘hopes’ and ‘aspirations’ of continued partnership.
This is not good enough. When pressed again the Home Secretary couldn’t give me any assurances. This is playing with fire when it comes to our national security.
The Government have only given our police flat cash from central government funds with the additional funds coming from local council tax rates – meaning your council tax is going up to fund the shortfall the UK Government has installed.
But the question I wanted the minister to answer was where will the funding come from to support any pay rise that our police officers deserve. So far no promises have been made that this will come from central government meaning that it may have to come from more local council tax increases: all well and good for the wealthy south east of England but it will put untold burdens on Delyn households.
Disappointingly the minister failed to answer my question. He wrongly said that the funding provided was fair. Not only that but he tried to say that Labour voted against more funding. That is simply not true. I voted against the flat cash settlement the Government is now implementing. A flat cash settlement which will mean fewer police officers and stretched resources.
Once again I pressed the Government for an answer as to whether or not we will remain a member of EUROPOL when we leave the EU. It is an important organisation that helps the UK police and security authorities bring criminals to justice. Not being a member will weaken our safety.
At Home Office questions I was able to ask the Minister of State for Police and Fire, Brandon Lewis MP, when the Government was planning on responding to its consultation on metal theft legislation.
As you will remember in 2011-12 there was a epidemic of metal thefts up and down the country. Criminals were stealing lead of church roofs, signal cabling from train lines and cooper wire from telephone exchanges. This was costing churches, commuters, individuals and businesses time and money. The Government introduced an Act to strengthen the law surrounding the sale of scrap metal and it is important that we check its progress to see if it is working.
The Government undertook a public consultation on metal thefts and we are still waiting for their response. The Minister merely said, in response to my question, that he would report to the House in due time. I will give the Minister some extra time to prepare a full and thorough response, but I will be watching closely to see if any undue delay takes place.