It is time to allow the PSNI and the Garda to cross the border

The PSNI and the Garda now have a very good relationship.  When a suspect is being pursued who tries to seek refuge across the border, they are quick to call their professional counterparts in the other sate.  The trouble is, that is not always good enough.  In remote country areas where there is no police station or patrol car nearby, the suspect sometimes evades capture. 

I know of a few stories that I have picked up through conversation with other lawyers where suspects have evaded capture by crossing the border.  I am also aware of cases where the police have illegally crossed the border – giving rise to issues as to the legality of the arrest. 

It is in all our interests that criminals are given as little quarter as possible when it comes to their apprehension.  That is why I welcome the report in the Belfast Telegraph today that the Police Federation of Northern Ireland are calling for cross-border powers of arrest in cases of hot pursuit.  If the Chief Constable of the PSNI is in favour of it, so also should be the UK Government and the new Department of Policing and Justice.

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One Response to It is time to allow the PSNI and the Garda to cross the border

  1. Hot pursuit powers are uncontroversial elsewhere in Europe – the Schengen agreement specifically provides for cross-border operations when handover between forces is impractical. Article 41 of the Schengen II convention is applicable:

    Article 41

    1. Officers of one of the Contracting Parties who are pursuing in their country an individual caught in the act of committing or of participating in one of the offences referred to in paragraph 4 shall be authorised to continue pursuit in the territory of another Contracting Party without the latter’s prior authorisation where, given the particular urgency of the situation, it is not possible to notify the competent authorities of the other Contracting Party by one of the means provided for in Article 44 prior to entry into that territory or where these authorities are unable to reach the scene in time to take over the pursuit.

    (etc…) I’ve long been of the opinion that there is no good reason for the UK to stay out of Schengen (Ireland would join in an instant if the UK changed its mind). Powers such as you propose would be an automatic consequence of signing up.

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