Crimestoppers campaign at risk from Tory Euro-sceptics

George Lyon, Liberal Democrat MEP for Scotland, has warned the chairman of Crimestoppers, Tory peer and donor Lord Ashcroft, that his charity's new campaign to catch the UK's most serious criminals hiding abroad will be doomed if the UK pulls out of essential European police cooperation measures as demanded by 102 backbench Tory MPs.

Under the new project 'Operation Zygos', Crimestoppers is appealing for information from Cypriots and the expat community on the whereabouts of nine individuals wanted under UK-issued European Arrest Warrants for serious crimes committed in the UK, including rape, child sex assault, drug dealing and serious fraud.

However, 102 Conservative MPs have called on the UK Government to withdraw from European police cooperation measures despite calls from a group of senior former UK police and security chiefs for the UK to stay involved in European police cooperation measures like the European arrest warrant.

The new Crimestoppers initiative builds on the success of 'Operation Captura' where UK, Spanish and other European law enforcement bodies cooperated to track down and return 49 of the UK's most wanted gangsters hiding in Spain, using the European Arrest Warrant.

Commenting, Liberal Democrat MEP for Scotland George Lyon said:

"Most people will agree that when crimes cross borders those who fight crime must have the tools to chase up leads and pursue suspects. That is exactly what the European Arrest Warrant is designed to do.

"But if hard line Euro-sceptics in the Conservative party get their way, Lord Ashcroft's campaign to catch criminals and bring them to justice is doomed from the start.

"The European arrest warrant must be applied properly and there is scope to reform it. But scrapping it altogether would allow hundreds of the UK's most wanted criminals to make a joke of our criminal justice system by living the high life in sunny retreats around Europe.

"The security and safety of the British public must come before ideologically driven moves by Euro-sceptics to stop our police from bringing criminals to justice. Lord Ashcroft should make this clear to his party in no uncertain terms.”