Stewart Dickson MLA said: “The decision to block the Northern Ireland’s participation in the National Crime Agency will come back to bite those who opposed to it. This will make it much more difficult to deal with organised crimes in our community.
“The alternative to the NCA operating in Northern Ireland is a bigger burden on an already overstretched PSNI. It will fragment efforts to tackle crime nationally and internationally and, quite frankly, make us a laughing stock across the border and throughout Europe.
“We must not allow political dogma to drown out the evidence. Just because this is an all-UK approach does not make it bad or something that we need to be suspicious of.
“Organised crime is increasingly trans-national, with no respect for borders, and crime groups are quick to take advantage of differences in legal codes or state capabilities across borders to accomplish their ends. We have witnessed this when people traffickers have used countries with lax immigration controls as transit states, and when thieves and smugglers have exploited flaws in border controls. Crime groups are quick to catch on to weaknesses.
“We are already being targeted by international crime gangs operating on a global scale. Why are the SDLP and Sinn Fein putting us at risk of further insecurity? Recent history has demonstrated the need to counter such activity through trans-national policing arrangements and by institutionalising cooperation, yet some in this chamber want to deny these efforts.
“How can members of Sinn Fein and the SDLP justify to their constituents making Northern Ireland more vulnerable to the activities of human traffickers, drug dealers, child abusers, fuel launderers, and tax evaders?
“The NCA will offer expertise in cyber- crime and child exploitation – which are both on the rise globally. Do Sinn Fein and the SDLP seriously want to block this?
“We need our police officers to be able to easily access information from across the globe, faster, quicker and smarter than any criminal – because that is the world that criminals inhabit – and that is the world that Sinn Fein and the SDLP want us to turn our backs on.”