Terror threat significant if Britain leaves EU

Timothy Kirkhope, Conservative MEP for Yorkshire and The Humber, Co-ordinator and Conservative Spokesman for Justice and Home Affairs in the European Parliament.
Timothy Kirkhope, Conservative MEP for Yorkshire and The Humber, Co-ordinator and Conservative Spokesman for Justice and Home Affairs in the European Parliament.

BRITAIN will face a heightened threat from terror attacks if Britain leaves the EU and fails to join in a new passenger information system, an influential politician has said.

The new EU Passenger Names Records (PNR) system will be voted on in the European Parliament next month and if adopted it will pick up suspicious movements of potential terrorists trying to make their to the country.

A memorial in central Brussels following the March 22 terror attack in which killed 32 people.

A memorial in central Brussels following the March 22 terror attack in which killed 32 people.

Failing to seize the opportunity to join up to this valuable information network by leaving the EU at the June 23 referendum could put the country at risk, Timothy Kirkhope MEP has warned.

Britain's cooperation with French authorities and other countries has avoided at least seven terrorist attacks on Britain in the last 18 months alone.

"This new system picks up names and patterns. This will help enormously with security and that seems to be a very strong justification for being involved in EU processes," said Mr Kirkhope, who is Conservative spokesman for Justice and Home Affairs in the European Parliament and authored the new PNR legislation.

"It's not a silver bullet but it's a significant aid to security and in the dangerous world that we are living in now, particularly in Europe, things like this really do matter."

Brussels is cordoned off following three bombings at the city's airport and Maalbeek Metro Station.

Brussels is cordoned off following three bombings at the city's airport and Maalbeek Metro Station.

He said PNR is an enhanced computerised system whereby airlines share information on people's journeys and are obliged to do so when operating within EU member countries.

Certain patterns of travel, known groups of people travelling together or people already known to authorities will be picked up by an automated system, and it will then be assessed by authorities to see if it needs further investigation.

Advanced passenger information is currently the only way authorities are given any notice of someone travelling to the UK who may be of concern.

"PNR picks up itineraries of an individual. People who are going to cause us trouble are not travelling directly, it might well be an indirect to where they are going to create a terrorism offence or some major criminality.

"They will fly in outside the EU from Istanbul. To set up a bomb in London they will fly from Istanbul to Stockholm, Stockholm to Madrid, Madrid to Paris and then Paris to London.

"At present the only thing we have to know anything about them at all is advanced passenger information on the route from Paris to London."

He said that while Britain could protect people outside the EU and continue bi-lateral agreements and information sharing with other countries, it would have to be on an individual basis and took take longer to implement.

PNR would also help disrupt human trafficking and the international drug trade, he said.

Remaining in the EU would also give Britain continued access to the ECRIS system ( European Criminal Records Information System) which exchanges the criminal records from all EU countries and bans people from the UK where appropriate.

Plans were put in place in January to upgrade this following the Paris attacks so that criminal records of non-EU citizens living in the EU could be shared in the same way.

Mr Kirkhope, said: "The new report I am doing extends the ECRIS system to catch up with the records of third country individuals and will offer greater protection to the whole of Europe in future."

He also praised Europol, the pan European police force, run by a British Officer Rob Wainwright as another example of another vital institution Britain would leave behind if it were to remove itself from the EU.