Opting out of the European arrest warrant (EAW) will have a ‘detrimental effect on obtaining justice for victims’, the Law Society warned today.

MPs are preparing to vote on Monday on whether the UK should continue using the EU arrest powers. Society president Andrew Caplen said the EAW is an essential weapon in fighting crime.

‘There is a significant danger that the UK would become a haven for criminals and would be unable to get extradition for those people it wanted to bring to justice,’ he said.

The Society has acknowledged concerns by some MPs about the EAW, but said these concerns should be addressed by discussion and negotiation rather than by opting out.

Caplen said the decision should not be used as a pro-/anti-EU issue, adding: ‘A decision to remove the UK from this justice measure would have far-reaching implications which would lead to complexity and cost, and have a detrimental effect on obtaining justice for victims.

‘The EAW has reduced the length of extradition proceedings by imposing strict time limits for acting on requests. By speeding up the extradition process, the EAW scheme benefits both the requesting and requested states, as well as the accused – who should spend less time in pre-trial detention as a result.’

Caplen was one of a number of lawyers and judges - including former Supreme Court president Lord Phillips - to sign a letter to a national newspaper stating the dangers if Britain opted out of the EAW.