The end of the era when British criminals on the run can find sanctuary on Spain’s southern ‘Costas’ is in sight, Home Office Security Minister James Brokenshire and Spanish Security Minister Francisco Martínez Vázquez jointly declared at a meeting in London, 17 December 2013.
The ministers reviewed recent successes under Operation Captura, a seven-year campaign run jointly by the National Crime Agency and the UK Crimestoppers charity. Through concerted publicity activity and public information, together with tough enforcement action, 56 of the 76 drug dealers, violent robbers and sex offenders on the run have been arrested and brought to justice in the UK.
They also looked ahead to the UK’s integration in October 2014 to the second generation Schengen Information System (SIS II). SIS II is a European computer network which will make it easier and more efficient for police forces and officers at borders across Europe to share information in real time about criminals, their vehicles and documents. So, as well as helping the police in the UK to arrest criminals on the run in Europe, it will also improve other countries’ ability to identify foreign offenders hiding in the UK.
And once they have been found, the European Arrest Warrant means they can be extradited from the UK to the countries in which they are wanted. More than 4000 wanted people have been removed from the UK in the past four years, including 57 people wanted for child sex offences, 105 people wanted for murder, and 86 people wanted for rape.
In a joint statement, the ministers said:
With over three quarters of Britain’s most wanted in Spain arrested over the last five years, the message is clear: there is no hiding place for criminals on the run. This is good for both our countries.
The efforts of our police and security agencies, supported by the excellent work of Crimestoppers and the Operation Captura campaign, have had a substantial effect. It’s a great example of cross-border policing and security cooperation in action. We are determined that it will continue and determined to work together even more closely to deprive criminals of the proceeds of their crimes, by recovering their assets.
We look forward to strengthening and deepening our cooperation next year with the UK connecting to SIS II. It offers a powerful new means of sharing information on wanted criminals between our police and other law enforcement agencies quickly and accurately. It will help us build on achievements to date and turn up the heat on any fugitives still at large.