49. DRAFT JOINT ACTION WITH REGARD TO
COMBATING INTERNATIONAL CRIME WITH FULLER COVER OF THE ROUTES
Letter from Lord Tordoff, Chairman of
the Committee, to Kate Hoey MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary
of State, Home Office
At its meeting on 14 April Sub-Committee E (Law
and Institutions) considered the draft Joint Action with regard
to combating international crime with fuller cover of the routes
The Committee noted that the Government is concerned
that police operation of the kind proposed by the Joint Action
may not be a good use of resources and that it has asked to see
the results of previous Schengen pilot exercises. The Committee
would be interested to learn the Government's reactions when it
has considered these results.
There are two further matters on which the Committee
would be grateful for clarification. The first concerns the implications
of the Government's recent announcement that it intends to participate
in certain aspects of Schengen. To what extent does that announcement
affect the present proposal and the Government's response to it?
Secondly, the proposed Joint Actions contemplates
the "participation" of Europol in the operations in
question (Article 1) and in the later evaluation exercise (Article
3). To what extent would this involve Europol and its staff being
active in police operations in a way or ways that it has not been
so far? What role is it envisaged that Europol would play under
Article 1 of the Joint Action?
The Committee looks forward to receiving the
information requested above. In the meantime the draft Joint Action
is retained under scrutiny.
19 April 1999
Letter from Kate Hoey MP, Parliamentary
Under-Secretary of State, Home Office, to Lord Tordoff, Chairman
of the Committee
Thank you for your letter of 19 April following
the meeting of Sub Committee E (Law and Institutions) on this
draft joint action.
I should first explain that this draft joint
action has been superseded by a draft Council Resolution, the
latest version of which is 7260/99 (ENFOPOL 24/99). This was deposited
on 6 May, and an Explanatory Memorandum has been submitted.
In order to support its proposals the German
Presidency have now provided details, in 6520/99 ENFOPOL 17 (attached),
of the various Schengen pilot operations on which this proposal
is built. However, having studied these, we have not changed our
view on the effectiveness of saturation policing of the kind proposed.
For example, one of the operations described in the paper dealt
with vehicle smuggling, and ran from April to early June 1997.
Approximately 13,700 officers were involved, 140,000 vehicles
were checked, and 86 stolen vehicles were recovered, with follow-up
operations recovering a further 24. I am sure you will agree that
this does not seem to be a reasonable return for the deployment
of considerable resources.
Document 7260/99 ENFOPOL 24, however, is a considerable
improvement on the original version. The focus on saturation policing
has gone and the draft resolution now recognises the need to "deploy
forces and equipment appropriate to the situation."
The proposal and the Government's response to
it will not be affected by the recent announcement on UK participation
in Schengen. The German proposal is designed to include all Member
States, whether they are Schengen States or not. The UK's application
to participate in the police and judicial co-operation provisions
of Schengen is a separate issue.
On the question of the role of Europol, this
was discussed at some length during the Working Group meetings,
and the draft Resolution has now changed to take account of the
comments made. Document 7260/99 ENFOPOL 24 no longer refers to
the participation of Europol in these operations, or in the follow-up
evaluation, but merely refers to the support of the Europol. There
is therefore no longer any question of Europol actively participating
in either the exercises or the evaluation, but they would be able
to offer some valuable expert knowledge.
17 May 1999