Norfolk police commissioner criticises arrest warrant debate

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Norfolk Police and Crime Commissioner, Stephen Bett, has accused politicians of treating justice like “a political football” amid a deepening row over Britain’s relationship with the European Union.

There have been calls in recent days for Britain to withdraw from the European Arrest Warrant system, under which a warrant issued in one member state will be enforced by the authorities in all others.

But Mr Bett, a former county councillor for the North Coast division, says that would be a dangerous step.

He said yesterday: “There are very real implications of opting out, not least that we could open ourselves up as a refuge for dangerous criminals from other European countries trying to evade justice.

“We mustn’t lose sight of the fact that the European Arrest Warrant is an essential tool for policing and for keeping our communities safe.

“Without it, the extradition laws on which police would rely would make it, at best, a long drawn-out process, extending the suffering of victims and their families in their wait for justice.

“I would urge those politicians using this as a political football to put themselves in the victims’ shoes and consider what they’d want from our justice system.”