It is the first duty of government to ensure that our people and communities are protected from threat whether from crime or terrorism. Our citizens expect no more and will judge their government on how they perform in Europe we worked with partners to secure that protection. Now we head for the door we have to ensure we do the same.
As the world has become more globalised so have those threats. What was once a situation of localised and isolated criminal and security pressures on our safety, has now become a web of interconnected illegality and pan-national terrorism. All UK governments have rightly placed significant emphasis on tackling these threats. In the first phase of tackling the evolution of danger, the UK developed robust at-home security services. Then, as the illegal activity became globalised, we created links with our European Union partners and other national governments. The state has been in a race to keep ahead of terrorism and crime, a race we have so far been ahead in.
Crime does not operate in isolation. Very often serious organised crime helps fund terrorism, and terrorism tries to punch through our international security barriers leaving behind voids which people traffickers can manipulate.
People trafficking has been an issue that has provided a background base to international crime for decades. But more recently, with the horrendous situation in Syria and North Africa we have seen this form of crime make itself known on a more prominent basis. The UK may not be at the epicentre of this booming crime, but if we fail to work with our international partners it will be an activity that reaches onto our shores.
We also face organised crime, which profits on the movement and sale of narcotics and arms. The UK has some of the tightest controls on drugs and guns in the world. The pressure that is being exerted on our, and our neighbour’s, borders by those trying to smuggle in these banned goods is extraordinary. We are one of the very few nations in the world that have outright bans on handguns, this has drastically reduced deaths by firearms in the UK. But criminal gangs thrive on the sale and use of these banned weapons. Therefore the UK is a prime target to smuggle in these guns. This principle applies to the import of illegal drugs as well.
So, what then for life after Brexit? The first and most important goal that must be reached is to maintain cooperation with the EU. The Labour Party and Britain are both internationalists at heart, and that means that we should never allow a government to turn the countries back on our regional neighbours. Cooperation with other nation states is the only way we can continue to tackle, undermine and defeat globalised crime and terrorism. We only need to look towards nations that do not live within, or have access to, a common union of states to bolster their security to see they are developing those very same links. The most famous of these is the Five Eyes intelligence alliance between Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United States and the UK.
We must remain a part of Europol. As discussed above, it has acted as a conduit of knowledge for police services across Europe. Its ability to work cross-border has allowed police services to exchange not only information about organised criminal activity and terrorist organisations, but it also aids in training police.
Post-Brexit Britain will need to formulate a robust strategy for protecting private sector industries from cybercrime. It would appear that leaving the EU would see us leave the ENISA. So we need to build a relationship with our European partners and allies around the world. Only then can we provide the private sector with the best advice and resources to combat industrial espionage and malicious attacks.
Finally, we must go forward into the world establishing new relationships with our allies around the world to tackle pan-national terrorism. We should not ignore our excellent partnerships with EU nations, as only a Europe united by a determination to defeat terrorism will succeed.
Our prosperity is based upon our security. Now, more than ever, we need the government to re-evaluate what our security partnerships mean and how best to utilise them. The first duty of government is to provide security and this should underpin a post-Brexit Britain.