The European Arrest Warrant (EAW) is a mechanism by which individuals wanted in connection with significant crimes are extradited between EU member states.

The role of the NCA

Every country in the EAW system has a SIRENE (Supplementary Information Request at the National Entry) Bureau. In the UK this is the NCA. We act as the legal gateway between authorities requesting an arrest and those carrying out an arrest.

Our role is to assess the proportionality and legal validity of EAW requests into and out of the UK. We place validated EAWs on national systems and, in high risk cases, carry out work to locate offenders and alert the relevant authority - usually a local police force.

EAW requests which are not validated are returned to the requesting authority for further action.

It is not our role to look at the evidence a warrant is based on or decide if an extradition is ordered. In the UK, these are decided by the court. 

If an extradition is ordered by the court following an arrest we facilitate the return of the wanted person.

Other organisations involved in the EAW process

Other organisations involved in the AEW process include:

  • Sirene Bureaux and issuing judicial authorities in other member states. The Bureaux exchange EAWs via the Schengen Information System.
  • The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, which is the central authority for Scotland. Along with the Crown Prosecution Service (for England and Wales) and the Crown Solicitors Office (for Northern Ireland), they issue EAWs on behalf of UK police forces when a subject is in another member state. They also represent other member states’ prosecution authorities in seeking extradition from the UK.
  • UK police forces and other law enforcement agencies, which typically make the initial request for an EAW for subjects in another EU country. Police will also arrest subjects in the UK who are wanted by other EU countries
  • Westminster Magistrates Court (for England and Wales), Edinburgh Sheriff Court (for Scotland) and Belfast Magistrates Court (for Northern Ireland), which hold EAW extradition hearings. The judge or sheriff decides if extradition should be ordered. The Appeal Courts and the Supreme Court may also become involved if appeals are lodged.
  • European police forces. Subjects being extradited from the UK will be handed over to the requesting police force.

EAW statistics

EAW statistics are broken down as follows:

  • Wanted from the UK (Part 1): Where the individual is wanted by another EU country
  • Wanted by the UK (Part 3): Individuals wanted by the UK and believed to be in another country
  • Historical data: All EAW cases processed by the NCA and our predecessors. Note that the data for 2004 to 2009 is totals only, it is not possible to break down this data.

Interpreting EAW statistics

It is important to understand the differences between requests, arrests and surrenders.

  • Requests: The number of requests received by the UK does not represent the number of wanted people in the UK. Some member states issue requests to numerous member states when they do not know where a subject may be. A large proportion of the requests received by the UK will be for people who are not, and never have been, in the UK. Similarly it would be inaccurate to calculate the number of wanted people in Europe by adding together the total number of requests for every member state. To do this would count the same individuals many times over.
  • Arrests: This represents the number of people who have been identified as being in the UK and have been arrested, usually by the local police force.
  • Surrenders: People arrested on an EAW have the right to appeal against or to contest their extradition. The surrenders figure represents the number of people who - having either failed in their appeal or chosen not to appeal - are extradited.

It is also worth noting that request, arrest and surrender figures do not necessarily relate to the same group of people, in the same year, given that processes and timescales can overlap.

Recent changes in recording EAW data

The UK joined the law enforcement element of the Schengen Information System (SIS II) on 13 April 2015. This is a Europe-wide means of sharing information to assist law enforcement and border control.

In preparation for joining, as the UK’s Sirene Bureau we changed the way Part 1 cases are recorded. Previously, low-risk or non-UK cases were not recorded as individual requests. Now all requests, irrespective of a UK connection, are recorded. This has resulted in a higher number in 2014/15 than in previous years.