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Seven former police chiefs: "Leaving Europe would make us less safe"

Seven of Britain’s most senior former police chiefs have today united to say that “Britain will be safer inside the European Union”, while “leaving Europe would make us less safe”.

In an open letter, the seven – who include two former Commissioners of the Metropolitan Police and a former President of the Association of Chief Police Officers – say that British membership of the EU makes Britain more secure, as we can freely share information with police forces from 27 other EU countries. And they say Britain benefits from the European Arrest Warrant, which was used to catch 21/7 bomber Hussein Osman.

They say that leaving the EU would be “a gamble with our security” that would “put us at a disadvantage in tackling terrorism and organised crime”.

Commenting on the letter, Charles Clarke, former Home Secretary, said:

"Michael Gove might not want to hear from experts but I trust the opinion of those who have spent their careers fighting crime and terrorism.

"These distinguished police chiefs who know a thing or two about our security could not be clearer - we are safer in the EU than we would be out on our own."

Also commenting, Home Office Minister James Brokenshire said:

"The firm view from those with significant frontline experience of fighting organised crime and terrorism is that we gain clear security benefits by remaining in the EU.

"Britain gets the best of both worlds by harnessing our access to EU security systems in combination with our enduring intelligence relationships with partners like the US.

"At a time of continuing terrorist threat our domestic security requires us to work even more closely with our European partners.

"It's difficult to see how we can possibly do this by shouting from the sidelines rather than sitting at the table as an equal member."

Full letter:

“As former Chief Officers and Policing professionals our experience has been better than most about what is required to tackle terrorism and crime and to keep the people of our country safe.

“This is why we believe that Britain will be safer inside the European Union, and that leaving Europe would make us less safe and put us at a disadvantage in tackling terrorism and organised crime.

“Being in the EU means that UK police forces can freely share fingerprint data and criminal records with 27 other countries. Access to this information is vital to track down criminals who want to cause us harm.

“The EU helps our police forces to work together, making it harder for criminals and terrorists to evade justice. The arrest of Hussein Osman, who plotted a bomb attack in London and tried to flee to Italy, was thanks to European Arrest Warrant.

“We do not believe that staying in Europe makes us more vulnerable, it is not credible to argue so, all the evidence is to the contrary. We can see no case for taking such a gamble with our security that leaving the EU would entail.

“Britain already has the best of both worlds. We are not part of the passport-free Schengen zone. We retain our border controls, while being able to track down and prosecute criminals. We are stronger and safer in Europe”

Full list of signatories:
Sir Matt Baggott CBE QPM, former Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland.
Lord Blair of Boughton, Commissioner, Metropolitan Police 2005-8.
Lord Condon, Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police from 1993 to 2000.
Sir Peter Fahy, former Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police.
Sir Hugh Orde, former President of the Association of Chief Police Officers, and Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland from 2002 to 2009.
Sir Paul Scott-Lee, former Chief Constable of Suffolk Constabulary and West Midlands Police.
Peter Neyroud, former Chief Executive Officer for the National Policing Improvement Agency, and former Chief Constable of Thames Valley Police.