Summary: Det Supt Carl Galvin - Brexit and the impact on policing

29 October 2019 to 29 October 2020

Shelley Gregory, PNLD Legal Adviser, provides an overview of the EU exit and the impact on policing as presented by Detective Superintendent Galvin at our Criminal Law Conference on Thursday 17th October 2019. (At the time of delivery, this presentation was accurate as to the position at that time).

This year, the delegates at the annual PNLD Criminal Law Conference heard about how the police were preparing for the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union (from this point on referred to as the EU exit) and an insight was given into the potential challenges policing may face. This informative presentation on this fast paced topic was provided by Det. Supt. Galvin who is currently the Silver Commander for the Crime, Intelligence and EU Instrument aspect of the EU Exit within West Yorkshire and the Yorkshire and Humber Region.

The segment began with Det. Supt. Galvin noting how there had been a lack of media coverage with regards to the EU exit and policing, and although he quite clearly stated that he does not condone the leaking of information, he felt the media coverage of the potential policing issues had increased after the leakage of the Yellow Hammer Document in the summer. This had the effect of placing the issues policing could face within the public arena and the media began to recognise some of the problems that may be faced when the UK leaves the EU.  This instigated a flurry of activity that he believes has assisted policing.

Det. Supt. Galvin identified that the police are having to prepare for three general scenarios regarding the EU Exit. These are:

1. Contingencies for a no deal.
2. Transition to a new deal.
3. Extension to the process.

From these possible scenarios there were four strands for policing identified within West Yorkshire (it is likely that these are replicated across the country):

1. Civil Contingencies.
2. Protest and Disorder.
3. Mutual Aid.
4. Crime, Intelligence and Security.

Det. Supt. Galvin went through each of these strands and explained to the delegates what they all meant.

Civil Contingencies

From a policing perspective, the details to be considered are risk, impact and community issues that any three of the scenarios may cause when the UK leaves the EU.

The civil contingencies work is delivered through local resilience forums. Every force has a local resilience forum and they are involved in emergency planning for situations where civil emergencies may occur such as flooding, a health epidemic etc. Recently, the local resilience forums have been committed to EU Exit planning. 

The considerations around civil contingencies are ports, stockpiling and the requirement of the police and partners to fulfil their role. Det. Supt. Galvin spoke in a little more detail about each of these considerations.

Ports (water, land or air)

Ports have become a primary focus of activity, but also other areas such as the highways are being considered. The police must be prepared to ensure that any issues within a port setting don’t spill out onto the road network, so that a certain degree of normality can be maintained to ensure people can go about their everyday business with little, or no disruption.


People are identifying what they need and storing it up in preparation for the EU exit, for example fuel, uniform etc. and this can be done by anyone; members of the public, businesses or public sector organisations, for example.

There has been an increase in crime through criminals knowing that stockpiling is taking place, and seizing opportunities.

Police have been involved in the security of stockpiling, for example, of drugs by the NHS, of stock in warehouses etc.

Requirement of the police and partners to fulfil their role

Where gaps are identified with regards to statutory partners, there is a requirement for the police to fill those gaps, for example, within the UK Border Agency or partners in port settings. This will bring obvious resourcing issues where partner agencies are not prepared for the issues the EU exit may bring for them. They may need assistance from the police to allow them to continue with the provision of their critical business.

Protest and Disorder

Protest activity receives a high public interest and is reported in the media and on social media. The police expect that protests will occur and they respect the rights of people to protest. The police attempt to allow protests to occur peacefully, with a minimal amount of disruption.

There are around 17 mainstream groups that have established themselves purely around the EU exit issues, and they all have splinter groups.  There are four mainstream national groups that don’t appear to be committed to a particular EU exit stance i.e. pro leave or pro remain, but they are engaged in general activity around the whole EU exit process.

There are seven right wing groups with a specific focus on EU exit issues, three national anti-EU exit groups and a number of anti-right wing groups, who aim to counter the far right activity that occurs.

There is a huge intelligence resourcing demand in relation to monitoring and managing this protest activity to ensure an adequate policing response can be provided. Det. Supt. Galvin reminded delegates that with any protest activity comes a possible disorder element.  Officers should be mindful of the potential for any peaceful protest to change into criminal behaviour and escalate to large scale disorder. In preparation to deal with this possibility of disorder, the police have the trained specialist resources available to rapidly respond, should anything occur.

Mutual Aid

Det. Supt. Galvin explained that mutual aid is the ability of the police to mobilise and support police colleagues, and other agency colleagues, should they require it. There are statutory agreements that have been made that place an onus on the police to respond to mutual aid requests within certain timescales. Every request for mutual aid supported by the national police co-ordination centre must be responded to within 24 hours, however, there are other more urgent demands that require a response within one hour or six hours. Having knowledge of where police resources are to service these mutual aid requests is crucial.

Crime Intelligence and Security

There are a number of key legal mechanisms in place that assist and govern police work with our European partners.  There are around 130 mechanisms, with 36 of them being key instruments that are utilised almost every day to ensure that the police can protect the public and undertake crime and security investigations with regards to our EU partners. Det. Supt. Galvin expressed concern that if adequate arrangements that mirror those 36 tools were not secured, or the UK leave the EU without a deal to legally access them, there is a potential risk to the ability to police certain aspects.

MP Security

Conflicting opinions on the EU exit has caused a rise in reports of crime against MP’s but, like anybody else, MP’s should be able to go about their business without being the victims of crime.  The security of MP’s causes significant concern and is something that the police are involved in and therefore, this has significant resourcing implications.

There is a national three tiered approach to crime intelligence and security:

Tier 1 – International Crime Co-ordination Centre (ICCC). This is in the Home Office and is staffed by experts who can advise on a range of international policing issues.

Tier 2 – Regional SPOCS. There are two SPOCS per region, one assigned to the counter-terrorism arena and one to the general policing arena but they are working together to deliver messages from the home office, quickly and consistently, to the forces, to try and ensure all forces are delivering their EU Exit preparations in a joined up and consistent way.

Tier 3 – Local International Tactical Advisors (ITACS).

Det. Supt. Galvin then picked out some key areas that required understanding should there be no EU exit deal and went on to discuss them.

Interpol v SISⅡ

At the moment, the Schengen Information System exists and this is a process of data exchange. This is an automated process that occurs mainly from national police databases into Europol databases, that allows information to be shared around things such as wanted people, missing people, and registered sex offenders, and for the identification of specific items of property that are moved throughout the EU in furtherance of organised crime, such as vehicles, firearms, expensive works of art, forged documents etc. If this relationship is lost, there is no legal mechanism in place for the continuance of that data exchange and this will result in the police not having the information to understand the threat and risk from foreign national offenders.

However, there is hope that this potential loss can be countered by the use of Interpol. There is no automated data exchange but this will provide a contingency with regards to the loss of the Sirene tool, and Interpol notices will be used instead. Currently millions of Sirene records are being back-record converted and inputted into Interpol systems.

Interpol has their own computer system that is available to police forces called I-24/7 and this system will become a mainstream policing system after the EU exit. Det. Supt. Galvin informed delegates that access to this system can be gained by contacting their international liaison officer.

European Arrest Warrant (EAW)

Det. Supt. Galvin reminded delegates that there is no such thing as an international arrest warrant, however, currently there is the EAW.  An EAW gives the police the ability to either:

Where one is in existence, detain and arrest people in the UK and put them within a process.

If the EAW is granted by our courts, to detain the person and send them to a foreign jurisdiction for them to undertake the same process.

The potential loss of the EAW is concerning with regards to crime and security; but a concern that will hopefully be reduced by the introduction of new legislation, currently the Extradition (Provisional Arrest) Bill, which will create a new power of arrest for extradition purposes. There are 3 parts to extradition:

Part 1

The inbound requests from Europe to arrest and detain people. There are approximately 1,700 arrests per year in the West Yorkshire force area for a wide range of offences. Should the EAW no longer exist, then all Part 1 arrests will move into Part 2.

Part 2

These are inbound requests from non-EU countries. This is a complex process which provides for how we detain and extradite from the UK to a non-EU foreign jurisdiction. This would be for very serious offences. There are about two or three of these in the West Yorkshire force area per year.

Part 3

These are all outbound requests for extradition. This also involves non-EAW requests.  There are approximately 200 arrests in the West Yorkshire force area per year. If this process is lost, then all the requests from the EU to have people returned will be the same as for the rest of the world, using the Extradition Act.  Therefore, there won’t be warrants that provide for the power of arrest but instead there would be the requirement to go through full affidavits that create extradition warrants for the detention of the person and this is a complex and lengthy process.

Det. Supt. Galvin highlighted the potential for our criminal justice system to grind to a halt should we lose access to this mechanism on leaving the EU.

Community Cohesion and Reassurance

Work in this area has been around the increase in hate crime and also around the amount of EU citizens who live within our communities that may have their status questioned should we leave the EU.

There is a protection for EU citizens for two years, provided that they engage with the EU Settlement Scheme.  This is a complex process for an EU citizen and their family to go through to try and gain some legitimacy with regards to their status within the UK.

With regards to community reassurance and cohesion, there are huge issues in relation to communicating with the EU communities and understanding what their EU status may be after the EU exit. There is a lot of worry within the communities but a number of charitable organisations have now surfaced to specifically deal with this issue and offer support.

As a final word, Det. Supt. Galvin referred to instances when policing has previously prepared for large scale problems and large scale issues, and competently provided a dynamic response.  He was confident in the long term planning and preparation ability of the police, but believes that we may be approaching a time when policing could be stretched to the absolute limits and reach breaking point. He questioned whether policing could continue to be adequate and effective in a situation where threats and risks were unknown.

Det. Supt. Galvin encouraged delegates to engage colleagues in the preparations for the EU exit so that the police forces can be as prepared as possible.

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Thursday 15th October 2020


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