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What will Brexit mean for children? This is the question our Government needs to explore

Feb, 2017
The ISPCC is urging the government to ensure that the protection of children both north and south of the border should not be diminished due to the UK’s exit from the EU. Many of the laws and structures that contribute to child protection across borders are rooted in the EU structures and institutions.
On the eve of All-Island Civic Dialogue, the ISPCC is supporting young people’s call that ‘Brexit’ must not be allowed to undermine the common rights enjoyed by young people across this shared island.
  • A matter of huge concern for the ISPCC following the departure of the UK from the EU is the potential weakening of structures thereby putting the safety of children across Europe, including Ireland, at risk.
  • The UK is a key partner member of Eurojust. The organisation uses jointly obtained evidence in accordance with agreed EU procedures, making the prosecution of criminals extradited between EU states an easier and less complex task. It is critical to seek clarification on how this will operate in the future.
  • The EAW (European Arrest Warrant) is a further cooperation device between EU states in the detection and prosecution of crimes affecting more than one state.  The EAW is a key tool in enabling states to cooperate in the detection and prosecution of criminals. Using the European arrest warrant procedures, over 1,000 suspects are removed from the UK to other EU countries every year to face trial. In the four years to 2013, that included 57 child abuse suspects, 86 rape suspects and 105 murder suspects. Individuals who, but for the agreed EU criminal justice measures, might well be still in the UK. It is imperative we receive clarification on the future operation of this mechanism once the UK has left the EU.
  • Europol is the EU’s law enforcement agency, and plays a central role in policing crimes against children and young people.  Child sexual exploitation is one of the nine EMPACT priorities, Europol’s priority crime areas, under the 2013-2017 EU Policy Cycle.  Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) supports the competent authorities in Member States in preventing and detecting all forms of criminality associated with the sexual exploitation of children. The ISPCC is calling for clarity on the operation of Europol once the UK has left the EU.
ISPCC Chief Executive Grainia Long stated: “The UK’s decision to leave the EU has innumerable ramifications for law, policy and practice in the area of child protection and child welfare.  The ISPCC has begun to map out the serious consequences for children and will liaise with the NSPCC (UK) and our European networks (including Child Helpline International and the EU Fundamental Rights Agency) in undertaking our work. 
 “The protection of children across Europe, including children in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, is dependent on the cooperation structures set out above.  The ISPCC is calling on the government to liaise with each agency to hear its preferred options for how the UK exit could be managed with minimal disruption to cooperation between nations.  The ideal scenario is for continued cooperation with the UK, however, this will be entirely down to the terms of its exit as agreed. 
 “Our key focus is to ensure that the laws, policies and institutions that protect children are not undermined by the changes, and that there is no retrogression in protections for children in Ireland.