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Ireland; United Kingdom: British-Irish Inter-Parliamentary Body Recommends Improved Police Cooperation

(July 13, 2009) The British-Irish Inter-Parliamentary Body (BIIPB) was formed in 1990 to address issues of bilateral concern. The body consists of Members of the Parliament in London, the Oireachtas in Dublin, the Assembly of Northern Ireland in Belfast, and the legislatures for Scotland, Wales, and the Isle of Man. (CURRENT MEMBERS of the British-Irish Inter-Parliamentary Body [2007], BIIPB website, (last visited July 8, 2009).) <b style=”> In July of 2008, Committee A of this body prepared a Report on Cross-Border Cooperation Between Police Forces (Committee A (Sovereignty Matters), Doc. No. 149 (July 2008), BIIPB website, available at In March of 2009, the BIIPB approved this report and its recommendations for the British and Irish governments. The Governments of the United Kingdom and of Ireland are now preparing comments on the report.

Committee A found that cooperation between the police forces in Ireland and Northern Ireland was generally very good, but that cross-border investigations and trials are hindered by legal obstacles. For example, statements taken by the Irish police cannot be used at trial in Northern Ireland unless British rules are followed, and evidence cannot be transferred from one station to another without an International Letter of Request. This process is time-consuming and is used mostly for serious crimes. The result is that criminals can evade prosecution for lesser offenses even when evidence or witnesses are available. For this reason, the report recommended that the parties develop inter-jurisdictional procedures for investigating and prosecuting offenders. (Id.)