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Volume 404: debated on Monday 28 April 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how the proposed changes to Europol's powers will affect its working relationship with domestic United Kingdom police and security forces; and if he will make a statement; [109146](2) if he will make a statement on the working relationship between domestic United Kingdom police and security forces and Europol. [109145]

Europol supports the operations of the EU Member States' law-enforcement authorities in combating serious and organised cross-border crime, by collating and analysing intelligence provided by national authorities. At present national authorities can only liaise with Europol through the national unit designated in each Member State. The UK's national unit is based at the National Criminal Intelligence Service, through which an excellent working relationship has been developed between Europol and our police and security forces. This is demonstrated by the fact that the UK continues to have the highest total number of investigations supported by or through Europol among all the Member States.The current proposed amendments to the Europol Convention would allow Member States to permit their law-enforcement authorities to liaise directly with Europol, provided that national un its are kept involved and simultaneously informed of any exchanges of information. This arrangement may provide a degree of extra flexibility and efficiency in certain cases, but will not significantly change the working relationship between Europol and the UK police and security forces.