Firearms conference stresses need for European…

Law enforcers have highlighted the importance of collaboration with countries across the continent at the first conference on European firearms supply issues.

The event was jointly hosted by Police Scotland and the National Crime Agency (NCA) and brought together senior decision makers and practitioners from UK and European law enforcement.

The NCA highlighted the “critical” role Europol plays, while Scotland’s justice secretary said it is vital that after Brexit countries are still able to share information that will enable them to help tackle crime.

Delegates at the event, which took place at the Scottish Police College at Tulliallan, discussed operational responses and agreed a more resilient and effective response to preventing illegal firearms from entering the UK criminal market.

Presentations were delivered by specialists from Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Slovenia and the Netherlands, as well as Police Scotland, the NCA and the Metropolitan Police Service.

Sue Southern, deputy director at the National Crime Agency, said: “We recognise that a crucial aspect of addressing serious violence in the UK is to trace supply routes for the illegal firearms that fuel it and work with European partners to shut them down.

“This event has reinforced the cooperation amongst UK law enforcement and with our European partners.

“We are all committed to developing that cooperation further, sharing intelligence and capabilities to combat the threat.

“The conference highlighted that the issues our European partners face in respect of firearms trafficking are intrinsically connected to our own.

“It also confirmed the critical role that Europol holds in bringing together information from different jurisdictions to assist our investigations in the UK.”

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf, who spoke at the conference, said the event helped underline Scotland’s commitment to being part of the international effort to fight crime.

He said: “In our increasingly connected world it is incredibly important to build on existing strong links we have within Europe, and further afield, to demonstrate Scotland’s commitment to collaborate on justice issues for the benefit of all our citizens.

“Indeed, it is critical that, after Brexit, we are still able to share information that will allow law enforcement agencies to reduce the harm caused by serious organised crime.”

The conference ran from Tuesday to Thursday November 29.

Deputy Chief Constable Johnny Gwynne said: “Police Scotland is delighted to have co-hosted this highly significant conference with the National Crime Agency, bringing together law enforcement agencies and partners from across Europe to tackle the scourge of illegal firearms supply across the continent.

“The event, which is the first of its kind, has enabled key players to raise concerns, address issues and devise action plans to improve our approaches to keeping people safe in Scotland, in the UK and around Europe.”

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