Home Office organised crime minister Karen Bradley and Spanish security minister Francisco Martinez Vazquez met in Madrid to agree how the two countries could co-operate more closely in recovering financial assets from fugitive crooks.
The issue is considered a priority as it was the UK minister’s first trip abroad.
Many criminals move their assets abroad as they know it makes it harder for law enforcement agencies to reach them. Both countries have agreed to team-up and deepen their cooperation on confiscation cases. They will assist each other in the recovery of criminal assets and list priority cases.
More UK criminal assets are thought to be in Spain than any other EU country.
The new system will also see an asset recovery specialist from the Crown Prosecution Service posted to Spain and a Spanish liaison magistrate stationed in the UK.
This common effort to seek new avenues for strengthened cooperation follows the success of Operation Captura, a campaign launched in 2006 and run jointly by the National Crime Agency and the UK Crimestoppers charity.
It has seen 58 out of 76 named criminals on the run in Spain arrested and brought to justice in the UK.
The ministers stated:
“Excellent co-operation between our two countries has led to the arrest in the last five years of over three-quarters of Britain’s most wanted in Spain and sent a clear message: there is no hiding place for criminals on the run.”
Spain and UK have also planned to work together to strengthen the sharing of criminal record data about travelling sex offenders and combat the sexual exploitation of children, including through the European Criminal Records Information Systems (ECRIS).