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Euro-warrant to catch two of the North East’s most-wanted criminals hiding in Spain backed by NE MEP

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Local Liberal Democrat MEP Fiona Hall has backed the use of the European Arrest Warrant to capture two of the North East's most wanted criminals.

This week the National Crime Agency and Crimestoppers published the details of 13 wanted fugitives believed to be hiding in Spain, including armed robber Brian Thexton from County Durham and fraudster Keith Turner originally from south-east Northumberland.

Ms Hall commented:

"It is vital that our police can work with their Spanish counterparts to bring him back to face trial in the UK.

"It's not so long since suspected criminals could evade British justice by escaping to Spain or elsewhere on the continent. But now, thanks to the European Arrest Warrant, there's no escape for criminals on the run in Europe.

"Shockingly, the Conservatives wanted to ditch this vital tool for our police. Liberal Democrats helped stop this move and have ensured criminals can't escape justice simply by crossing the channel."

For years, Spain has been used as a hideaway for British criminals evading capture. But this changed in 2004 with the introduction of the European Arrest Warrant, which has made it easier to bring British criminals back to face justice in the UK.

Since the launch of Crimestoppers Operation Captura in 2006, 53 of Britain's most-wanted criminals have been arrested and brought to justice. Earlier this year Rory Burns from Chester-le-Street was returned to the UK using a European Arrest Warrant for serious assault charges.

Liberal Democrats have blocked attempts by the Conservatives to withdraw the UK from EU police cooperation measures including the European Arrest Warrant, which the Association of Chief Police Officers has described as "vital" in the fight against crime.