David Davis comments on the dangers posed by criminals abusing EU freedom of movement


As reported in the Daily Mail:
Deadly Cost of Our Open Borders

EU free movement rules have let dozens of foreign criminals commit horrific offences in Britain, analysis reveals.
A dossier released today lists 50 of the most dangerous’ European criminals who have entered the UK freely, despite convictions in their countries.

Once here, 45 of them committed serious offences, the report by Brexit campaign Vote Leave says. In total, they were responsible for 14 killings, including nine murders, and 13 sex crimes of which seven were rape. They also carried out robberies, theft, burglaries and drug offences.

Last night Brexit supporters said the report showed EU membership made the UK less safe and less secure’. The EU does not compel member states to share information on criminals, meaning many are able to travel to the UK unhindered. Free movement rules give every EU citizen the right to enter any country in the bloc.

Eurosceptics argue that if Britain votes to leave we could negotiate a new deal that does not include free movement of workers without more stringent checks. These could include criminal record checks on anyone wanting a visa, even for the short term. Serious offenders could then be automatically excluded.

The Government could continue co-operation on information sharing and extradition under any new agreements.

Among those on the list of 50 drawn up by Brexit campaign group Vote Leave are Arnis Zalkalns, the Latvian who murdered his wife before moving to the UK where he killed 14-year-old Alice Gross.

It also names Ireneusz Bartnowski, a Polish burglar who murdered elderly couple Guiseppe and Caterina Massaro within weeks of arriving in the UK.

The dossier also reveals the exasperation and despair of British judges presiding over these cases, as they questioned how such dangerous men got into the country in the first place.

Victor Akulic, a serial Lithuanian offender with convictions including child rape, committed rape again within a year of entering Britain. In court, Lady Justice Hallett asked: Do we have to take in anybody, even if they have a conviction for raping a child?’

Kajus Scuka, had convictions for murder, gross indecency and assault but after coming to the UK committed rape and three other sex attacks within months.

Sentencing, Judge Peter Kelson said: It seems to me … even with your convictions for murder and assaults you were free to enjoy the same freedom of movement as any other European citizen.’

Among five who did not commit any offence in Britain is Abdelhamid Abaaoud, who helped plan the Bataclan terror attacks in Paris. He entered the UK despite a conviction in Belgium for terrorism-related offences.

Brexit campaigners argued the report showed EU membership meant Britain had lost control of its borders. Justice minister Dominic Raab, who is backing Brexit, said: EU rules make it far too difficult to control who comes into the UK, and who we can deport.

In security terms, that forces us to import risk at the expense of public protection. There’s no escaping the fact that this weakens our security.’

Vote Leave chief executive Matthew Elliott said: EU membership means we have lost control of our borders and have been unable to prevent dangerous individuals from walking into the UK.

Free movement of people has created free movement of criminals making the UK less safe and less secure. We’ve allowed EU judges to hang out a welcome sign to individuals the public would rightly expect never to be allowed into the UK. If we want a sensible and humane migration policy, the only safe option is to vote Leave and take back control.’

Tory MP David Davis, former shadow home secretary, said: ‘This highlights a big hole in the argument of those who say that being in the UK adds to our security and safety. As this list shows, it no way adds to our safety in any way; instead, it detracts from it.

Because we don’t control our own borders, and because the EU prevents us from doing so, this puts people in Britain at risk of suffering real crimes, whether it is murder, rape or other criminal harm. This is a direct outcome of the EU obsession with freedom of movement.’

But pro-EU campaigners said the Leave camp’s argument was confused. They insisted leaving the EU would damage co-operation between countries on crime. Former Home Office minister Damian Green said: Once again the Leave campaign’s argument makes no sense, it is a mix of chaos and confusion.

The key alternatives they offer to our EU membership involve accepting the principle of free movement, including both Norway and Switzerland. The truth is the UK already has the best of both worlds.

We maintain all the benefits of EU membership whilst opting out of the passport-free Schengen area and maintaining our border at Calais rather than at Dover. We are able to stop suspects from travelling to the UK and since 2010 we have refused entry to almost 6,000 EEA [European Economic Area] nationals … Inside Europe we work with our partners to tackle violent crime, and through Europol we protect UK citizens and bring criminals to justice. Leaving the EU would be a leap into the dark and would put this vital co-operation at risk.’

Although the EU demands that the right to free movement is upheld, it does not compel member states to share information on known criminals – except in the most extreme circumstances. It means there is a huge hole in the information held at ports and airports on European offenders.

Some countries such as France and Germany do flag up potentially dangerous people to the UK, but many other countries – including most of the Eastern European states that joined the EU in 2004 -do not. The report notes that many other EU countries do not have Britain’s system of supervision requirements for serious criminals such as murderers and sex offenders.

EU rules also mean someone can be excluded from the UK only if they pose a genuine, present and sufficiently serious threat’. Even for someone with a serious criminal conviction, officials must prove that person is a current risk. By contrast, non-EU nationals applying for visas to come to Britain can be required to produce an official clean criminal record certificate.

The Remain camp argues that criminals could still cross the border even if we outside the EU.
They also point to the European Arrest Warrant, which allows Britain to get hold of criminals who have fled to the Continent.