LibDem MEP Phil Bennion has backed a Justice Across Borders demonstration today, supported by Stephen Fry, against a plan by Conservative ministers to opt out of 130 European police and criminal justice measures.
Justice Across Borders is holding a demonstration against the optout today outside Parliament in Strasbourg, which has celebrity backing from Stephen Fry. The demonstration is also supported by Anti-Slavery International and the children’s charity ECPAT UK.
Figures from ECPAT UK show that at least 500 children will be put at risk of trafficking and abuse every year if the opt-out demanded by Euro-sceptic Conservative MPs goes ahead.
MPs debated the possible opt-out in an Opposition Day debate in the House of Commons this afternoon.
Commenting, Phil Bennion MEP said:
“I strongly support the campaign by Justice Across Borders against the optout. Fighting international crime and human trafficking is rightly a top priority for all of Britain's police forces and Europol.
"Yet Conservative pressure to pull out of EU policing and crime-fighting measures such as the European Arrest Warrant directly conflicts with this goal. Opting out to try and satisfy UKIP's Little England approach would put children at risk and help traffickers and gangsters evade justice.”
"Throwing away these vital measures which allow police to go after criminals if they flee across borders, or are based overseas and carrying out crimes here by proxy or online, is frankly stupid.
"The Conservatives will never out-UKIP Nigel Farage so I don't know why they even try.
"Yesterday Mr Cameron made rather a good speech about the need for Britain not to be left behind internationally, yet he will not tell Theresa May to abandon this isolationist policy.
“Labour’s Opposition Day debate strikes of hypocrisy. The opt-out is misguided but it is worth remembering that it was Labour who negotiated the national veto over EU law enforcement measures when they were in government.
"There are plenty of checks and balances in the way the EU works as a democratic organisation. Getting the European Arrest Warrant right so the right people are targeted is important but throwing the baby out with the bathwater doesn't help anyone.
“Liberal Democrats have been fighting hard to ensure that our police retain the use these vital international crime fighting measures so they can catch criminals and keep the public safe."