Gemma Davies (Associate Professor in Criminal Law) together with her colleague Helena Farrand Carrapico (Professor of International Relations and European Politics, Northumbria University), was awarded a Scottish Parliament Fellowship on Criminal Justice and Policing after Brexit. The project, which starts in May 2023, aims to understand the impact of the current legal and political Scottish- EU relations on the Scottish criminal justice landscape.
The fellowship will enable a better understanding of the way Brexit is impacting the day to day policing and judicial authorities’ work, as well as the safety of citizens.
The agreeing of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) in December 2020 prevented the worst of the cliff edge consequences law enforcement and prosecuting authorities feared and had been preparing for since the triggering of Article 50 in March 2017. Although the negotiation of the agreement took place in the context of tense UK-EU political relations, there are aspects of the TCA which demonstrate high levels of ambition – in relation to surrender/extradition, exchange of criminal records and access to Prüm data and air passenger data exchange, for example. However, there are other areas where equivalence to pre-existing co-operation mechanisms has not continued, or has not been included at all, such as the Schengen Information System II. Cooperation under the TCA is also fragile, as it is at risk from divergences in approach to data protection and human rights, and from future expansion of EU cooperation which could leave the UK behind. Furthermore, whilst criminal justice is devolved in Scotland, the reserved character of foreign policy has resulted in police and judicial cooperation with the EU being negotiated with very limited input from the Scottish Government. In addition, some criminal justice matters, such as extradition, are also still a matter reserved to the UK Government. Furthermore, Scottish issues can be drowned out in UK fora and there is not always a good level of understanding of the differences between the criminal justice systems and how aspects of criminal justice cooperation may impact Scotland. This impact is particularly felt, for example, when cooperating with small states that Scotland has little or no diplomatic relations with, such as Malta. The Fellowship will report to the Criminal Justice committee and inform the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Government’s understanding of the impact of Brexit in this field and make recommendations for how cooperation with EU states could be improved in the future.