UK-Irish Criminal Justice Cooperation Network

Lead Research Organisation: Northumbria University
Department Name: Fac of Business and Law


One of the many challenges posed by Brexit is the risk of disruption to some of the means by which the security of the UK is ensured. This challenge comes from the fact that so much of our current national security is ensured through cooperation with EU partners. The country that we work most closely with is Ireland - with whom we share a close history of cooperation in policing, counter-terrorism and criminal justice. The UK/Ireland Common Travel Area sets the relationship between the UK and Ireland apart from the UK's relationship with the rest of the EU. The change to the status of the Irish border (becoming a frontier between the UK and EU) not only complicates the setting for inter-state cooperation but it also increases the likelihood of a security threat as it potentially increases the incentive for smuggling, which is in turn lucrative for organised crime gangs associated with paramilitary organisations.

This proposed network of academics and practitioners across the Republic of Ireland and the UK seeks to respond to these challenges by addressing the need to protect and enhance criminal justice cooperation between both countries after Brexit. This network will be the first time in which academics and practitioners working across Great Britain, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland will come together to consider the following specific issues:

- Potential changes to patterns of transnational crime post Brexit. Such changes must be anticipated to the extent that is possible in order to consider the policing and border control strategies needed to ensure crime is adequately controlled.

- The use of technology to support a 'soft' border between Ireland and Northern Ireland. Such use of technology has not previously been employed and could have significant human rights complications. For example it has been suggested that persistent surveillance of the border region can be achieved through the use of aerial-based solutions such as patrols by Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) assets and deployment of aerostats. Such solutions have not yet been considered through a human rights and data protection lens and have already been criticised by political scientists such as Katy Hayward as potentially endangering the Good Friday Agreement.

- Extradition between the two jurisdictions. The European Arrests Warrant (EAW) is currently the only way to extradite between Ireland and the UK. If the UK leaves the EAW then alternative arrangements will be required.

- Impact on policing of cross border crime post Brexit. Most cross border policing between the UK and Ireland is conducted through formal European co-operation mechanisms. This has ensured quicker and clearer channels of communications and the disruption of Brexit to these channels needs to be anticipated with alternative arrangements to current cooperation methods considered and their impact assessed.

- Impact of Brexit on data sharing and examination of the legal possibilities of the continued exchange of personal data with Ireland both within and outside of the European Union.

Running through each of these issues will be an overarching consideration of the unique historical, economic, cultural and political perspectives between Britain and the island of Ireland and how the policing of borders and transnational criminal activity may change post Brexit. The network's events will include a two-day final conference entitled "UK-Irish criminal justice cooperation: Where to now?" which will be open to the public, practitioners and policymakers. Throughout the project and beyond, the Network's dedicated website will be open access and provide information for practitioners and policy makers on key aspects of criminal justice cooperation as they emerge throughout the Brexit process. The ultimate aim is to use the network as an interactive live think tank for rapid response to developments as the implications of Brexit unfold.

Planned Impact

Efforts in respect of non-academic outreach and engagement will occur at all stages of the networking process and infuse many of the approaches to academic dissemination and interaction outlined in the 'Academic Beneficiaries' section. Such outreach has already begun with a meeting organised by the PI and the Association of Criminal Justice Research and Development (ACJRD) in Dublin in June 2017. It was clear from the meeting that there was a significant desire from practitioners working in disparate criminal justice fields to have a forum for understanding the implications of Brexit within their field and to aim to inform the development of policy and practice. ACJRD subsequently made the decision to base their 20th annual conference on the theme of "The Brexit Impact on Criminal Justice Co-operation in Ireland". This event took place on Friday, 6th October, 2017 in Dublin. Distinguished speakers at this event, The Minister for Justice and Equality, the British Ambassador to Ireland and Therese Blanchet of the Council Legal Service were joined by national and international plenary speakers and workshop presenters from the criminal justice sector. The PI, Gemma Davies and Adam Jackson (a member of the steering group) presented their perspectives on Brexit. This demonstrates the potential ability of the network to engage with policy makers in a way which can lead to tangible impact.

The aim of the Network will be to stimulate academic and stakeholder engagement and to ensure outputs are collaborative in nature. The current chair of the ACJRD, Maura Butler, has agreed to sit as the non-academic chair of the steering committee of the network. Her considerable links to practitioners across the island of Ireland will be of significant advantage when attempting to reach non-academic stakeholders. The involvement of the Northumbria University, Queen's University, Belfast and ACJRD will aid in the dissemination of results and the inclusion of a wide variety of experienced criminal justice practitioners and policy makers from each jurisdiction.

At the stakeholder engagement meeting in June 2017 it became clear that many stakeholders have limited information on how Brexit may impact their daily working lives and have not felt that their practice expertise is being taken into account by politicians who will ultimately negotiate Brexit. The network will seek to ensure impact for its academic research by engaging with policy makers, civil servants and politicians directly involved in the realisation of Brexit to ensure they have a clear evidence base to inform decision-making. Despite the UK Government's insistence that it will seek to protect cooperation after Brexit it is nonetheless clear that the process of withdrawing from the EU will make the need for criminal justice cooperation between Ireland and the UK simultaneously more vital and more difficult. As with such challenges - but particularly so in this regard - there is an urgent need to prepare for the changing conditions and environment for criminal justice cooperation prior to the full impact of Brexit being felt. It is essential that continuity is maintained, good practice is protected, and areas for enhanced cooperation (given the growing areas of risk, such as in relation to the smuggling of goods and people as visa and tax regulations diverge) are identified through open, frank and close channels of communication.

The network has the potential to extend past the award period and it is hoped that AHRC funding will be a catalyst for further research funding. Working papers and research summaries will be created after each of the network workshops and will be made freely available on the network's dedicated website as well as being circulated to the network participants who can then circulate throughout their own networks. The network will engage with Government consultations and submit evidence on behalf of the Network throughout the award period.
Description The UK-Irish Criminal Justice Cooperation Network is a collaboration between Northumbria University, Queen's University Belfast and the Association for Criminal Justice Research and Development in Ireland (ACJRD) and is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. The aim of the network is to understand the challenges the UK and Ireland might face in relation to criminal justice cooperation after Brexit and to explore how these challenges might be mitigated. The network held a total of five events from 2018 to 2020. A conference planned for April 2020 has been postponed until 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Throughout the duration of the network over 70 stakeholders participated in events from a broad range of criminal justice institutions, including police, prosecutors and border control, across Great Britain, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, along with policy makers and academics. A special edition of the Journal of Criminal Law, published in November 2020, includes four papers which emanate from the network. All of these papers have sought to understand the close relationship between British and Irish criminal justice agencies and explored ways of ensuring this relationship is protected and even enhanced in the coming years, regardless of the eventual relationship between the UK and the EU.

Despite the close working relationship between the PSNI and AGS, Brexit presents a risk of increased criminality between Northern Ireland (NI) and Ireland at a time when loss of EU police and judicial cooperation mechanisms could negatively impact operational effectiveness. Transnational crime - by its nature - crosses borders, and any changes to a border can impact the volume of crime or the way criminal gangs exploit borders. The extent to which the risks outlined below are realised depends on what the final relationship between the EU and the UK looks like. The more tangible the border and the greater the regulatory divergence, the greater the impact will be on crime; and the greater the loss of EU police and criminal justice cooperation, the greater the impact on cross-border policing.

Immigration crime
The UK and Ireland have never participated in Schengen and maintained separate immigration policies in relation to non-EU citizens. Prior to Brexit, free movement of people meant that they had the same approach to circa 445 million EU citizens. The UK will soon be free to alter its immigration policies in relation to EU citizens, and these policy changes will likely mean there is an increase in the number of people who are eligible to enter Ireland but not the UK. At the same time the UK Government has promised that 'there will be no routine immigration controls on journeys within the Common Travel Area, and none on the land border between NI and Ireland'. Whilst UK and Irish authorities have always worked cooperatively, informal information exchange has been superseded by EU measures. Not only does a significant amount of information come through EU databases, but EU data protection law governs how all personal data is shared between member states. Brexit could negatively impact the quality of information police and border officers have access to, particularly in a no deal scenario.

Commodities smuggling
The extent to which Brexit might impact smuggling demand depends on how the Northern Ireland Protocol is implemented and whether there is a UK-EU free trade agreement (FTA). If there is this would minimise incentives for smuggling because there would be no scope to exploit tariff differentials. If there is no FTA, then there will be increased incentives for smuggling across the Irish Sea from Great Britain (GB) in order to access the EU single market and thus avoid paying tariffs levied on legitimate GB to EU trade. The risk will be greatest for those goods which could face the highest EU tariffs. However, the risk of smuggling across the Irish Sea is lower than that of smuggling across the Irish border given the added logistical difficulties and the costs of movement across a sea border impacts the profitability of such smuggling.

The risk of smuggling could also increase if the application of the UK Internal Market bill means that the UK diverges from EU standards and those goods can freely circulate in NI. A 'race to the bottom' would mean that there will be a need for tighter controls on goods entering NI from GB. Foods produced to lower standards are cheaper to produce and the incentives to smuggle such goods into NI and/ or onward into Ireland, would be greatest where the price differential is significant. The introduction of a new customs arrangements is an opportunity for new kinds of fraud, and this will need to be monitored closely. The EU will be keen to assess the scale and immediacy of the subsequent risk for smuggling which could exploit a poorly enforced sea border, particularly in a no deal scenario.

Resurgence of domestic terrorism
The extent to which there is a risk of a resurgence in domestic terrorism in the coming years is unclear, but Brexit was presented in Northern Ireland along nationalist and unionist lines which has served to confirm old divisions. Dissident Republican terrorists have in the past used the border to frustrate counter-terrorism operations, while they and other organised crime gangs breached bail and crossed the land border to avoid prosecution. The political sensitivity of the border comes in to play when we look at how to mitigate crime risks across the border. There is evidence of strong opposition to any kind of physical manifestation of a border which could become a target, particularly for the Republican movement. The UK must resist a knee-jerk reaction which could undermine the fragile peace agreement in NI.

Whatever the final relationship between the UK and the EU post-Brexit the relationship will not be the same. At least some of the instruments that have been utilised to great effect over the last 20 years will not be available. The UK and Ireland will therefore have to find alternative ways of ensuring that cooperation between the two countries continues to flourish. A UK-EU comprehensive agreement is the optimal way of achieving this. In the event of the UK and the EU not reaching such a deal it is important to understand that the advent of GDPR and the Law Enforcement Directive mean that informal cooperation will be much less effective than it has been in the past. Formalising police cooperation through legal instrument and establishing a joint operational centre offers a positive way forward. This is more likely to be successful if supplemented by high level forums for cooperation. What the UK negotiates with the EU about criminal justice cooperation both now and in the future uniquely impacts Northern Ireland. It is recommended that the remit of the British-Irish Council be expanded to include criminal justice cooperation. This would emulate the Nordic model which sees criminal justice cooperation driven by justice ministers in the Nordic Council despite four different types of relationship between its constituent members and the EU.

Secondly, in the event of a non-negotiated outcome between the UK and the EU the UK and Ireland should explore bilateral agreements. A bilateral agreement on extradition is particularly needed. The EAW depoliticised extradition North and South and whilst there is political will on both sides for this to continue, falling back on the 1957 Convention forces extradition back into the political space. There are few legal limitations on a bilateral extradition agreement which could, in some respects, even offer improvements to the EAW. Bilateral agreements cannot replace EU databases and EU data protection rules will apply to any agreement which includes the exchange of personal information. An EU data adequacy decision would make the conclusion of bilateral arrangements much easier. However, in the absence of such a decision the UK and Ireland will need to work together to ensure Irish LEAs can be satisfied that appropriate safeguards are in place.
Exploitation Route The network to date has aimed to inform the brexit negotiations and preparations. It has now turned its attention to understanding the implications of Part III of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement for cooperation between the UK and Ireland. A conference scheduled for April 2020 had to be cancelled due to the pandemic and the funding has been extended until September 2021. In the last 6 months events and activities will focus on how the TCA can be implemented and supplemented to ensure that cooperation between the UK and Ireland can not only be maintained but enhanced.
Sectors Government, Democracy and Justice

Description The network and its outputs have directly enhanced the level of cooperation and coordination between criminal justice agencies in the UK and Ireland and ensured they were better prepared for Brexit through improved policy development and increased inter-agency cooperative experience and capacity. This has been captured through survey and individual testimony. The findings have also informed the political discussions in the UK government of the criminal justice implications for cross-border cooperation with the EU after Brexit. Written and oral evidence has been given to the UK Government as detailed above and the outputs of the network were used to inform confidential briefings provided to individual MPs, shadow front bench teams, and parliamentary select committees, to assist with policy development; formulating inquiry terms of reference; and scrutiny of Government ministers and departments. This impact has also been captured through written testimony.
First Year Of Impact 2018
Sector Government, Democracy and Justice
Impact Types Policy & public services

Description Invited to give evidence to the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee of the UK Parliament for the Cross-border co-operation on policing, security and criminal justice after Brexit inquiry
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Gave evidence to a government review
Description Invited to give evidence to the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee of the UK Parliament for the Cross-border co-operation on policing, security and criminal justice after Brexit inquiry
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Gave evidence to a government review
Description Workshop 1- Brexit policy and implementation for criminal justice cooperation 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The first workshop of the UK-Irish Criminal Justice Cooperation Network was held in the Law Society of Ireland, Blackhall Place, Dublin, on Friday 11th January 2019. The topic of the workshop was 'Brexit policy and implementation for criminal justice cooperation', and the primary purpose of the event was to set the scene for the topic of the network, to
clarify its purpose, to set common objectives and to enable initial relationship-building and discussion among the network members. The workshop was opened by Maura Butler, as chairperson of the Association for Criminal Justice Research & Development. She introduced herself as co-organiser of the network along with Gemma Davies (Northumbria University) and Katy Hayward (Queen's University Belfast). As lead of the network, Gemma Davies then presented an overview of its origins and its intended purpose and remit, including plans to set up a project-specific website. The network members were then asked to introduce themselves. The organisations/agencies represented at the event were: An Garda Síochána; Crown Prosecution Service; Crown Solicitor's Office, N. Ireland; Department of Justice and Equality, Ireland; Department of Children and Youth Affairs; An Garda Síochána Inspectorate; Irish Revenue Commissioners; Office of the Attorney General, Ireland; Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, Ireland; Protection and Organised Crime Division, Department of Justice, N. Ireland; PSNI; Public Prosecution Service, N. Ireland; Sustainable Criminal Justice Solutions; The Policing Authority (Ireland); The Probation Service, Ireland; and The National Police Chiefs Council (UK). Other organisations that will participate in the network but were unable to attend this
workshop include the Crime division, HMRC (N. Ireland), the Office of the Attorney General (Northern Ireland) and the Irish Prison Service. There are also a number of academic experts in the network. Those present at the event were: Edward Burke (Nottingham University); Vicky Conway (Dublin City University); Liz
Heffernan (Trinity College Dublin); Shane Kilcommins (University of Limerick); Paul Swallow (Canterbury Christ Church University); Niovi Vavoula (Queen Mary University,
London) and Tim Wilson (Northumbria University). The workshop consisted of three talks, each of which was followed by a Q&A session. The first talk was an Update on Brexit Negotiations from the Perspective of Police and Criminal Justice delivered by Joanna Dawson, Home Affairs, House of Commons Library. The second talk was delivered by Antoinette Doran, from the Department of Justice and Equality who is seconded to the Irish Permanent Representation in Brussels. This was on the
topic of 'Police and Judicial Cooperation in the EU - why it happens, how it happens and what are some of the implications of Brexit for it - the view from Brussels'. The final talk was on Border Policing Post-Brexit and was delivered by Assistant Commissioner Finbarr (Barry) O'Brien, An Garda Síochána, Northern Region, Sligo. The remainder of the workshop consisted of two small group breakout sessions, with questions for structured discussion. In the first session, people were allocated to groups that approximately reflected common professional interests (e.g. policing). In these, the groups were asked to address the following questions:
1. What has been the most significant area of recent progress/success in terms of UK-Irish criminal justice cooperation in your field in recent years?
2. Aside from/prior to Brexit, what was the biggest persistent challenge/hindrance/irritation in effective UK-Irish criminal justice cooperation?
3. What would you think might be the biggest loss in UK-Irish cooperation in your area in the event of a No Deal or a hard Brexit?
The second breakout session saw the creation of new small groups, each of which were asked
to address the following, focusing on the future direction of the Network:
1. What would be the top three priority topics/issues to be covered by a network of this nature?
2. What is the unique benefit to come from such a network/how best to realise this?
3. Any particular organisations/people you'd like to hear from/meet with, e.g. speakers?
The event concluded with a plenary session coordinated by Maura Butler in which the responses from each of the five small groups were reported.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
Description Workshop 2 - The Changing Landscape in Criminal Justice: How To Keep The Lights On 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact UK-Irish Criminal Justice Cooperation Network held a second workshop on the theme of Brexit policy and implementation for Criminal Justice Cooperation titled 'The Changing Landscape in Criminal Justice: How To Keep The Lights On'. The event was held at Queen's University Belfast on Tuesday 16 April 2019. The event had the following speakers:

Dr. Katy Hayward, Reader in Sociology at Queen's University Belfast - Brexit and its Borders

James Martin, Department of Justice and Equality - A Safe and Secure Common Travel Area
Policing panel on Managing the Changing Landscape for Policing Post-Brexit
Detective Chief Inspector Lorraine Henderson, Police Scotland
T/Assistant Chief Constable Tim Mairs, Police Service of Northern Ireland
Assistant Commissioner Finbarr O Brien, An Garda Síochána
Detective Superintendent Jerry Pearson, NPCC International Crime Coordination Centre
Followed by small table discussions on hard border planning

Gemma Davies, Associate Professor, Northumbria Law School, The UK-EU Security Treaty

Followed by small table discussions: A future UK-EU security treaty
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
Description Workshop 3 - UK-Irish Policing Cooperation After Brexit: Exploring European Perspectives 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The Network's third workshop was entitled "UK-Irish Policing Cooperation After Brexit: Exploring European Perspectives", and took place at , 9.30am - 4.00pm on Friday, 29th November, 2019, in The Green Hall at the Law Society of Ireland.

Workshop speakers included:
• Jean-Francois Clouzet, Head of French-Swiss cross-border security project "CEVA Léman Express"
• Francis H. Cassidy, National Member for Ireland at Eurojust
• Krista Hennessey, International Crime Coordination Centre (ICCC)
• D.I. Nicholas Staddon, Kent Police
• Associate Professor Synnøve Ugelvik, University of Oslo
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
Description Workshop 4 - 'Policy Update re EU-UK Negotiation Progress' 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The UK Irish Criminal Justice Cooperation Network collaborators moved to online events after a planned conference for April 2020 had to be cancelled.

The first online event, 'Policy Update re EU-UK Negotiation Progress', took place on Thursday, 17th September, 2020. Details are as follows:

Date: Thursday, 17th September, 2020
Time: 4 pm - 5.30 pm (BST/IST)
Online: Blackboard Collaborate
Speakers: Joanna Dawson, Senior Research Clerk, House of Commons and Tania Schröter, Deputy Head of Unit, Procedural Criminal Law, Directorate-General for Justice and Consumers (DG JUST), European Commission
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
Description Workshop 5 - Common Law and Prisoner Transfer in a post-Brexit Europe" 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Workshop 5 was titled "Common Law and Prisoner Transfer in a post-Brexit Europe" and was held online on Thursday, 12th November, 2020: 4 pm - 5.30 pm (BST/IST). This event featured academic presentations followed by practitioner discussant responses.
Presentation One: Dr. Liz Heffernan, "The Irish Common Law Trial and European Legal Culture". This paper considered aspects of the Irish common law trial tradition in the framework of European criminal justice and against the backdrop of Brexit and was based on a published paper.

Practitioner Discussant One: Ray Briscoe, Deputy Chief Prosecutor working in the Directing Division, of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. Ray qualified as a solicitor in England, working for a number of years as a criminal defence practitioner in the United Kingdom, including representing clients as part of the Duty Solicitor Scheme.

Presentation Two: Professor Tim J. Wilso, Professor of Criminal Justice Policy, Centre for Evidence and Criminal Justice
Studies, Northumbria University Law School, Newcastle upon Tyne, will speak on "Prisoner transfers within the Common Travel Area after Brexit". Prisoner transfer may have a significant impact on the nature and stability of future criminal justice cooperation within the Common Travel Area. Irrespective of the legal arrangements in place (or not) on 1st January, 2021, this issue offers scope for Irish-UK collaboration in (a) addressing dysfunctionality within the AFJS acquis and (b) encouraging greater realism about Art. 3 ECHR and penal reform.

Practitioner Discussant Two: Gerry McNally
Gerry McNally is President of the Confederation of European Probation (CEP). CEP ( is the network of probation and community sanctions bodies in Europe.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020