A no-deal Brexit would pose “major” security and law enforcement issues in Gwent, according to the region’s police and crime commissioner.
Jeff Cuthbert has warned that public disorder offences, including hate crime, could rise as they did in the aftermath of the 2016 referendum result.
Police forces would also lose the ability to use European arrest warrants and the Schengen Information System database, which allows officers to enter and consult alerts on persons or objects.
Mr Cuthbert said “robust” contingency plans were being put in place by Gwent Police to prepare for the UK leaving the EU without a deal on October 31.
Speaking to the Gwent Police and Crime Panel, he said: “The impact of a no-deal Brexit will cause problems for Gwent Police as they will for policing in general.
“What we do know, unfortunately, is that following the referendum three years ago there was a spike in hate crime.
“It probably wouldn’t have happened the other way around.”
A report to the panel revealed that there were 605 public order offences in 2018/19 – up from 287 in 2017/18 – and a 25 per cent spike in repeat victims of hate crimes.
Brexit-related tensions have been described as a significant factor in these increases, with some local authorities appointing cohesion officers to help tackle such tensions within communities.
But Newport city councillor Bill Routley asked if Gwent Police was preparing for potential tensions within communities if Brexit was stopped altogether.
Cllr Routley, who is also the mayor of Newport, said both ends of the Brexit spectrum were divisive, adding: “Public order is becoming strained, especially here in Gwent. [The public] are well divided.”
Mr Cuthbert agreed that both scenarios would present issues for policing but argued that the difficulties arising from a no-deal were more specific to policing.
He said: “Any significant change in publicly declared decision-making could provoke incidents at both ends of that spectrum.”
“Under no-deal It’s not just an economic issue, there are major security and law enforcement issues involved as well.
“The European arrest warrant would no longer be available to us, and the whole issue of data-sharing, which is crucial for modern day policing, would be in jeopardy.
“That’s not to say that arrangements wouldn’t be made through common sense, but they’d have to be made quite separately.”