Whether or not the voters of North Wales elect me as police and crime commissioner on the 5 May, I will be campaigning for Britain to stay in the European Union in the referendum on the 23 June.
In fact, if I am elected to head up the fight against crime in North Wales, my campaigning will have a new urgency. Our membership of the EU is critically important to keep North Wales – and all of our communities – safe. Crime works across borders, and it is our responsibility to work together to tackle it.
One of the biggest advantages of EU membership is the European arrest warrant. Put simply, if the police here in North Wales want to question under caution a suspect who has fled to elsewhere in the EU, they simply have to show they have a properly issued arrest warrant to the legal authorities in the other member states and the suspect will be arrested and brought back to the United Kingdom. There are no arguments about extradition treaties and no ways of jamming up the courts for months or even years on end. EuroJust, the European Union’s judicial cooperation unit, means that we are part of a network that brings criminals to justice in 28 countries.
If we leave the EU we put this access to justice at risk. Do we really think that other European countries, which have bent over backwards to give David Cameron a special deal on membership, on which we will vote in June, are going to give us everything we want even if we reject their offer? It is not a risk we should take.
Of course, stopping crime is not the only reason I will be voting for the UK to remain in Europe. North Wales knows about the economic benefits EU membership brings – and not just for the high profile things like Airbus at Broughton.
Leaving the EU could throw up barriers between our nearest neighbours and us too. Bringing back customs checks at Holyhead could, by adding costs, damage our exports to Ireland, yet might actually be a legal requirement if we leave and are outside the European single market.
Of course, the anti-Europeans will tell us that none of this will happen, that these are all scare stories. But they can offer no guarantees. We are being asked to trust the word of John Redwood, Nigel Farage and George Galloway. Does that seem like a sensible idea to you? Because to me it sounds like a recipe for disaster.
David Taylor is candidate for North Wales police and crime commissioner
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