Monday, July 21, 2008

Scotland to have greater role in cross border crime

Justice Minister Kenny MacAskill insists Scotland will have a wider role in combating cross border crime

Better get the handcuffs out now then !

The Scotsman reports :

Scotland set for wider role in cross-border crime fighting

By Rachel Stevenson

KENNY MacAskill, the Justice Secretary, is to meet his European counterparts in Brussels this week to discuss cross-border crime such as drug trafficking and cyber-crime, including child pornography.

The ministers will also examine ways of improving EU legislation to increase judicial co-operation between European countries, and debate the proposed European Pact on Immigration and Asylum, which sets out new principles to fight illegal immigration.

Speaking ahead of the meeting, Mr MacAskill said: "Scotland is a separate jurisdiction with our own legal system and Law Society. It is important that we are represented at the heart of Europe and that our voice is heard and our interests are recognised."

Mr MacAskill highlighted steps already taken by the Scottish Government to integrate with EU lawmakers.

He said: "We have already announced we are appointing a dedicated lawyer in Brussels and we are closely involved in the EU's Justice Forum. My visit next week is a further part of the work going on by this government to ensure we have a real say in the issues that matter to our citizens."

The meeting will be the first between the Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) Council of Ministers under the new French presidency of the EU. It will consider a replacement for the existing Hague Programme, a five-year plan that promotes co-operation between member states on matters of justice, but which is due to end in 2010.

The JHA will be Scotland's first involvement in European efforts to tackle internet-based crime including fraud, data theft and manipulation of data. Scotland already has other legal and judicial presences in Brussels, with a procurator fiscal acting as one of the UK assistant members of Eurojust, the EU body that assists prosecution authorities in cross-border cases.

In addition, Europol, the European law enforcement organisation, employs a Scottish police officer in its efforts to tackle drug trafficking and organised crime.

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