Policing the European Arrest Warrant
: an empirical study of a transnational policing tool

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The European Arrest Warrant transforms cross-border criminal law enforcement cooperation between EU member states, replacing bilateral extradition processes with a system of quasi-automatic surrender based on the principle of mutual recognition. The EAW radically transforms the power of the state to enforce criminal law, freeing it from its territorial moorings to co-opt the law enforcement structures of another state in pursuit of a fugitive. Most of the literature conceptualises the EAW as a system of judicial cooperation, focusing on the problems of imposing a unified system across a diverse range of legal systems. The police are largely absent from accounts of the EAW in practice, but this study demonstrates that the police play a vital role. Indeed, it is the power to police though the legitimate use of force that is being mutually recognised. Using a theoretically informed case study – based on 63 interviews in 38 organisations in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Poland, Spain and the EU – this thesis fills a gap in the literature by providing an empirical account of the police role and explaining how the power to police traverses national boundaries. The central argument is that the EAW is a transnational policing tool which strengthens and formalises European cross-border police relations. Conceptualising the EAW as a transnational policing tool invites an exploration of mutual trust between policing actors which potentially rests on different foundations than trust between political or judicial actors. Viewing the EAW in this way sheds new light on the issues of proportionality, uneven rights protection and democratic legitimacy raised by the literature. This thesis provides the missing account of the police role that is required to understand the system as a whole.
Date of Award1 May 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • King's College London
SupervisorBenjamin Bowling (Supervisor) & Nicola Palmer (Supervisor)

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