A former Met Police counter-terror chief said May's Brexit plan will prevent terrorism
Richard Walton, who led the Met Police’s anti-terror command until his retirement last year, said the intelligence and "global reach" that UK spy agencies had was enough to maintain the nation’s security.
Writing for the Policy Exchange think-tank, Mr Walton said the UK's superior intelligence agencies demonstrated their proficiency when responding to the Manchester Arena terror attacks last week, the Sun reports.
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Insisting that Britain did not need to remain a member of Europol, he reportedly said: “The reality is that Brexit will have little, if any, impact on UK counter-terrorism operations.”
He added: “We are still in the EU – so the status quo in security cooperation remains. It didn’t stop the Manchester attacks.
“Second, Belgium, France and Germany remain at the heart of the EU with all the attendant data sharing – and it didn’t stop attacks in cities from Brussels and Paris to Berlin.”
We are still in the EU – so the status quo in security cooperation remains. It didn’t stop the Manchester attacks
Richard Walton, Scotland Yard’s former counter-terrorism chief
The former counter-terrorism chief’s made the comments after Nick Clegg insisted Theresa May’s approach to Brexit “poses a direct threat to our national security”.
The Lib Dem Brexit spokesman said the UK uses the EU’s police database “16 times a second”, so opting out of it would exclude the nation from the “devastatingly effective crime fighting and antiterrorism tool” which locks up “53 people every day”.
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According to a new index, the EU27 countries fall into three groups: hard-core, hard and soft. These are the countries with the highest scores which indicate a fairly strong opposition to Britain’s position
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Mr Walton hit back: “Searches on Europol may have helped the North West Counter Terrorism Unit confirm the frequency and routing of Abedi’s travel from the UK to Libya and back.
“But bilateral cooperation is necessary to obtain additional evidence including CCTV imagery to prove whether Abedi travelled alone or with accomplices.”
Images of Salman Abedi captured on CCTV, on the day he killed 22 people at Manchester arena
Police have been conducting a fast-moving investigation into the Manchester bombing
Hailing the UK’s intelligence agencies as superior to its European counterparts, he added: “Judging by the speed of the response in Libya to the Manchester attack last week, the UK has demonstrated that it still has the capability, capacity and global reach to be effective in international counter terrorist investigations.”
Mr Walton said efforts made to deploy operatives “on the ground” is more more important than merely remaining a member of Europol.