A new security agreement with the European Union will allow the UK to share DNA, fingerprint and vehicle data to tackle serious crime and terrorism, the Home Secretary has said.
Priti Patel welcomed Britain’s new security arrangement, which will streamline extraditions between the UK and EU, allow the sharing of more data and allow stricter controls at the border.
The Home Secretary said the measures, which were agreed as part of the free trade deal announced on Christmas Eve, would allow ministers to “seize this historic opportunity to make the UK safer”.
“The safety and security of UK citizens is the Government’s top priority and the UK will continue to be one of the safest countries in the world,” Ms Patel said.
“I’m immensely proud of the comprehensive package of capabilities we’ve agreed with the EU. It means both sides have effective tools to tackle serious crime and terrorism, protecting the public and bringing criminals to justice.
“But we will also seize this historic opportunity to make the UK safer and more secure through firmer and fairer border controls.”
Experts had raised concerns that a no-deal Brexit would have severe implications for national security and law enforcement after January 1.
Lord Ricketts, a former national security adviser, said police would face a “a serious capability gap” compared to current arrangements if no agreement was reached.
The Home Office had stressed that its no deal planning was “well-developed and well-rehearsed”, but the Home Secretary today appeared to acknowledge that the deal was a better outcome for the UK’s security.
A key element of the agreement involves the sharing of personal data between the UK and the EU, including on vehicle registration, DNA and criminal records.
Ms Patel, who has long been a supporter of tougher immigration controls, has backed new rules that will ban foreign criminals sentenced to more than a year in jail from entering the UK.
The stricter rules do not apply to EU citizens protected by the Withdrawal Agreement, which includes those with settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme, but The Telegraph understands people protected by the settlement scheme could have their status revoked in future if they commit crimes.
The Home Office said the UK will start receiving advance data on all goods coming from Europe into Britain, which has not been possible under EU rules. Officials believe this will make it easier to track guns and drugs entering the UK from the Continent.