On 16 April 2013, I informed the House that the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) had identified an error in the way in which they had captured and reported the number of outgoing (part 3) European arrest warrants (EAWs) that have been issued since 2009-10. As I set out in April, I take this matter extremely seriously, and undertook to establish whether any adverse consequential issues may have arisen, as well as ensure that any inaccurate data that may have been provided to Parliament are corrected. Accordingly, I asked HM chief inspector of constabulary (HMCIC), in collaboration with SOCA, to audit SOCA’s systems for collecting data on EAWs; to validate the EAW figures; to ensure that the error identified in collecting data had no detrimental impact on public protection; and to provide assurances that SOCA’s new case information management system (CIMS) will provide accurate data in future.
This audit is now complete and I would like to thank HMCIC for the work his inspectorate have done to produce their report so promptly, copies of which are in the House Library. The report found that; a) the audit SOCA undertook to verify the data was robust, and the part 1 audit would result in the identification of more arrests and surrenders than previously promulgated; b) there was no evidence of systemic weaknesses that would adversely affect public protection; and c) CIMS would help SOCA record more accurate data in future.
The report also made a number of recommendations about work going forward, including: extending the auditing process to compare SOCA’s EAW data with information held on the police national computer; to give consideration to a focused campaign to find and arrest fugitives hiding in the UK; and to review the progress of all other changes to SOCA’s EAW process (including the implementation of CIMS) before the end of 2013. SOCA has accepted all these recommendations.
My officials will work with SOCA and, going forward, the National Crime Agency, to ensure that these recommendations are fully implemented.
SOCA has now provided revised data relating to incoming (part 1) and outgoing (part 3) EAWs. A high-level summary of the data is attached to this statement. The revised data will also be published on both the Home Office and SOCA websites.
This information should be seen as superseding any figures on EAW numbers which had previously been provided to Parliament in response to parliamentary questions asked on this issue since 2009-10, as well as in response to enquiries and reports from parliamentary committees.
Summary of corrected EAW figures
The following tables refer to revised figures as issued by SOCA. A complete breakdown of the corrected figures can be found on the Home Office and SOCA websites: