EU membership has provided significant benefits to Ireland in the fight against crime.
The European Arrest Warrant (EAW) has ensured that criminals can no longer escape justice by fleeing to another EU Member State. Compared to the traditional system of extradition, the EAW speeds up the handling of cases but at the same time safeguards individual rights. The EAW has led to a substantial reduction in the time it takes to surrender a person from one Member State to another for prosecution.
In the last four years, 194 suspected criminals have been arrested in Ireland on European Arrest Warrants and sent to their home countries to face justice. In the same period, Ireland has issued warrants for the arrest of 87 suspected criminals who were arrested in other member states and sent home for trial. Before the EAW, arrests like these were complicated, difficult to enforce and slow.
Europol (the European Police Office) gives practical support to police investigations in relation to cross-border crime. Europol uses liaison officers, on loan from the Member States, to facilitate the exchange of information between member states. From that information, Europol generates crime threat assessments and crime analyses for use by all member states. The agency also provides expertise and technical support for investigations and operations carried out within the EU.
Eurojust was set up in 2002 to facilitate cooperation between member states prosecuting serious cross-border offences. Eurojust creates the kind of cross-border co-operation in the criminal justice system that Europol provides in policing.
Eurojust supports the police forces and authorities in each Member State to ensure that cross-border investigations and prosecutions are effective. Eurojust has just appointed a dedicated contact point for child protection cases, providing advice and assistance to Member States dealing with cases involving child witnesses or victims and missing child cases.