FBI-style force for Europe to fight crime

A pan-Europe FBI-style police force will be operational within a decade.

Last Updated: Aug 29, 2010, 16:52 PM IST

London: A pan-Europe FBI-style police force with powers to arrest criminals will be operational within a decade, a media report said on Sunday.

Ferenc Banfi, the new director of the EU`s prestigious police academy in Bramshill, Hampshire, said talks were underway and British intelligence experts were leading them, Express.co.uk reported.

He said the threat of organised cross-border crime, mafia mobs and international terrorism was so great, a formal federal European force was vital.

He stressed it was not a politically driven ideal, but a common sense solution.

His comments follow a bleak report published this month in which EU police bosses warned of mafia groups trying to infiltrate the oil and energy sectors, deliberately manipulating prices for their own profits.

Left unchecked, criminals could do deals with pariah energy-producing states, the Organised Crime and Energy Supply report said.

In the worst-case scenario, there was a risk of "military intervention" causing unrest and even war, concluded the report by Europol, an umbrella group that helps to share intelligence and increase co-operation between the EU`s 27 member states.

Under existing arrangements, Europol does not have any executive powers, meaning it cannot issue arrest warrants.

However, Banfi, a former Hungarian communist party member who is an expert on organised crime after successes against mafia groups in eastern Europe, said that is likely to change.

In his first interview since taking up the role at the European Police College earlier this year, he told the Sunday Express: "I am 100 percent sure it is just a question of time when Europol will have executive powers in the future. It maybe five years or 10, but it will happen.

"Europol will become stronger. The effective fight against terrorism and international serious organised crime is not possible in an isolated way, and that includes the UK."

While Eurosceptics will worry about a loss of sovereignty, Tory MP and security expert Patrick Mercer last night agreed with the need for a unified force.

He said: "The threat of organised crime is such that there`s got to be that level of cross-border co-operation.”

"If that means a loss of sovereignty, then so be it because in this case I do think it`s a good thing."

He said any EU force would have to tackle the massive euro counterfeiting operation, some of which happens in Britain.

Criminals would be arrested by national or local forces on the orders of Europol, said Mercer, who has met Europol boss Rob Wainwright, former head of the international arm of Britain`s Serious Organised Crime Agency, to discuss the idea.

Mercer added: "The main issue in the fight against terrorism and other crime is the exchange of criminal intelligence.

"After 9/11 we reviewed our strategies. We had to ask why a lot of information was gathered by the national agencies but not dispersed.”

"It was true in the UK and also in the US and that was one of the main reasons why the terrorists were able to succeed.”

“So we concluded we had to make more integrated efforts."

IANS