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Extradition and the UK

By: Louise Smith, barrister - Updated: 13 Sep 2019 | comments*Discuss
Extradition Uk Treaty Convention Arrest

Extradition is the process by which a person suspected or convicted of a crime in one country can be sent to that country from a second country. Whether or not the extradition of an individual is possible largely depends on:

  • whether an extradition treaty or convention exists between the two countries; and,
  • the seriousness of the crime.
To be eligible for extradition an individual must generally be suspected or convicted of a crime which could result in a 12-month prison sentence in either of the countries involved.

Extradition law is extremely complex – the following article is intended to provide a brief overview.

The Extradition Act 2003

On 1 January 2004 new extradition law came into force in the UK. The Extradition Act divides countries, with which the UK has extradition treaties, into two categories: Category 1 and Category 2. The extradition procedure varies depending on which category a country falls into. A third category exists in relation to countries with which the UK has an extradition agreement in relation to specific crimes. A full list of countries with which the UK has a current extradition agreement can be obtained from the Home Office.

Many of the changes introduced under the new legislation were intended to address the increased global threat of terrorism in the post-9/11 world.

Extraordinary Rendition

Extradition should not be confused with ‘extraordinary rendition’. Extradition involves a long and transparent legal process. Extraordinary rendition takes place completely outside of the legal system and involves the secret transportation of suspects from one country to another for interrogation. The country to which the suspect is transported will generally have ‘different’, or less strict, rules on what constitute acceptable interrogation methods.

European Arrest Warrants

European Arrest Warrants have largely replaced the extradition process between EU member states (Category 1 countries under the new legislation). The courts in an EU country may issue a European Arrest Warrant in respect of an individual:
  • accused of a crime which carries a sentence of at least one year in prison; or,
  • convicted of a crime and sentenced to at least four months in prison.
An EU state arresting such an individual must surrender them to the country which issued the warrant within 90 days.

An EU state cannot refuse to comply with a European Arrest Warrant on the basis that the individual is a national of the arresting country. For some crimes an EU state must comply with a Warrant even if the alleged crime is not defined as such in that country.

Extradition from the UK

A request to extradite an individual from the UK is also known as an ‘export’ or ‘incoming’ extradition request. (A request to extradite someone to the UK may be known as an ‘import’ or ‘outgoing’ extradition request.)

A country requesting extradition from the UK may either arrange their own legal representation or be represented by the UK’s Crown Prosecution Service. All extradition requests to the UK start at the City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court. Extradition cases were heard at the famous Bow Street Magistrates’ Court until this closed in 2006.

When a request for extradition is made the police will apply to the court for a warrant in order to arrest the individual sought. The papers requesting extradition will then be checked by the Home Secretary to ensure the correct procedures have been followed. If satisfied, the Home Secretary will sign an Authority to Proceed. The case will then go before a judge who will decide whether extradition is justified. If the request is approved the individual facing extradition can appeal the decision.

To secure extradition from the UK, the country seeking extradition must usually show that there is sufficient evidence to bring a court case against the individual to be extradited. However, the UK has now entered into an agreement with some countries which means that they do not have to satisfy the UK court that there is sufficient evidence before extradition can take place. This rule applies to EU countries, the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

In most cases this arrangement is reciprocal meaning that the UK does not have to provide evidence in order to secure extradition of an individual from one of those countries. However, due to a hiatus in the implementation of the necessary law, there is no reciprocal arrangement between the USA and the UK. This means that whilst the UK must supply evidence to extradite from the USA, the USA does not have to provide evidence to extradite from the UK.

Circumstances in Which an Individual will Not be Extradited

There are circumstances which will always prevent extradition taking place. These include cases where the individual’s human rights may be breached or where they may face the death penalty if they are extradited.

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can you return Uk after extradition to Poland?
Sara - 13-Sep-19 @ 1:37 PM
My partner was extradited from the UK to the USA but all charges were dropped. Would he now be able to return to the UK as he has a life out here with me, his business and his kids?
RosyAli - 17-Jun-19 @ 12:01 AM
@Ktlou - if there is a European arrest warrant out for your friend there is nothing the UK can do.
TJ. - 31-Mar-18 @ 9:49 AM
A friend of mine is Hungarian he is living in UK he has just been arrested and due to go into court in next 7 week before his possible extradition goes ahead they say if we can not get bail he will do 2 and a half year, he come to the UK for a better life an opportunities he hasn't committed crimes in the UK and is trying to turn life around, is there anything we can do to help stop the extradition or not please. We are doing all we can to get reference from employers / colleague's and friends can you recommend anything else
Ktlou - 30-Mar-18 @ 7:35 PM
Hello,i been have extradition to my country from UK,or i can come back now?
Erikasas - 19-Mar-18 @ 9:24 AM
@Mary Mary - The UK does not currently have any extradition treaty with South Africa
TJ. - 16-Mar-18 @ 3:41 PM
A friend of mine lives in the UK now and is a UK citizen. She lived in south africa for many years and married a south african. She never became a citizen of south afirca. Her and her husband opened a business inher name but the husband ran the business.Since moving back to the UK a year ago she has learnt that he has not paid the company tax or vat. Can she be extradited back to south africa from the uk to stand trial for tax fraud?
Mary Mary - 16-Mar-18 @ 10:56 AM
Hello. My friend is Spanish and he had 2 fights in Spain which led him to be scheduled to appear in court but he left and came to the UK to live. He's been here for 3 years now, the problem is that he lost all his documents a few weeks ago and he needs to go to the Spanish embassy for new ones but he is afraid that he might be arrested once they check his record. Does the embassy have the power to arrest someone with a warrant in Spain or will they be able to renew his documents? Please let me know thank you so much!!
Joan - 10-Mar-18 @ 12:09 AM
Hi my friend is now retired and gets state pension and also PIP. He most likely will be extradited to Portugal to serve sentence. Will he loose his state pension? Thank you Ana
Ana - 4-Mar-18 @ 8:17 AM
tony1076 - Your Question:
A friend of mine who is from portugal been living in the uk for 14 yrs. he was drug dealing here he got caught with £10.000 of heroin was sent to prison for 4 yrs I think he did 18 months can he be extradited back to portugal and if so how long for oh and he is also a heroin addict of 20 yrs

Our Response:
The Sec of State will automatically make a deportation order in respect of a foreign criminal. A foreign criminal is someone who is not a British citizen, is convicted of an offence in the UK and receives a sentence of 12 months or more.
AboutImmigration - 23-Feb-18 @ 12:46 PM
@tony1076 - Anyone who is deported after being sentenced to 4 years or more in prison is banned from re entry to the UK for life.
TJ. - 23-Feb-18 @ 7:50 AM
a friend of mine who is from portugalbeen living in the uk for 14yrs.he was drug dealing here he got caught with £10.000 of heroin was sent to prisonfor 4 yrs i think he did 18monthscan he be extradited back to portugal and if so how long foroh and he is also a heroin addict of 20 yrs
tony1076 - 22-Feb-18 @ 11:03 PM
Ana - Your Question:
Hi, a friend of mine is facing extradition to Portugal where he should serve 18 months in jail. My question is he has is life and family here; could he return to his life in the uk after serving his time in Portugal. He has never committed a crime in the uk and lives here for 14 years.Many thanksAna

Our Response:
Your friend would have to get permission from the Home Office to re-enter the country after the mandatory 10 year ban for enforced removal. There is also a further discretionary refusal of entry clearance to all individuals who have a criminal history or due to their character, conduct or associations. The length of time for refusal after this depends on the date and length of sentence imposed, and the person’s character, conduct or associations
AboutImmigration - 5-Jan-18 @ 10:27 AM
Hi, a friend of mine is facing extradition to Portugal where he should serve 18 months in jail. My question is he has is life and family here; could he return to his life in the uk after serving his time in Portugal. He has never committed a crime in the uk and lives here for 14 years. Many thanks Ana
Ana - 4-Jan-18 @ 10:49 AM
My friend was due in court for robbery he ran of to Portugal where he is a Portuguese citizen can he be bought back to U.K.?
Loz - 15-Aug-17 @ 11:50 AM
Hi, my friend will be extradite for 4 months, he have the family and business running in Uk. It was a minor crime ( he driving without id and driver licensewith him) it's not crime in UK. He still to wait 4 years to come back to UK?????
N2015 - 7-Jun-17 @ 9:58 PM
@Maz - If your friend is Spanish and her country of origin is Spain, then EU citizens can be deported if they serve a sentence over 12 months. Robbie.
RTG77 - 31-Mar-17 @ 2:17 PM
My friend was caught with possession of cocoaine and mdma, did 6 months on remand in Spain and then was bailed signing at police station after 6 months left and came back to U.K.. all has been well and that was 11 years ago, she now has a child of 9 years and been caught with a small cannabis cultivation grow, was taken for voluntary interview and is worried they can extradite her back to Spain, she is a single mum after 11 years can they do that??
Maz - 31-Mar-17 @ 5:06 AM
my partner is in Wandsworth waiting to be extrodited back to poland. He was sentenced 8 years ago in his absence to do 2 and a half years sentence. will he be able to come straight back after his sentence. we have three children together and I'm born here ???? plz someone help
channy - 7-Feb-16 @ 11:52 PM
@Jfomenko24 - I don't know whether extradition is any different, but I know the terms of deportation are that he may still be refused entry to the UK if his criminal sentence exceeded four years, with no expiry. If his sentence was more than 12 months but less than four years, entry will be refused for 10 years from the end of the sentence. If he was sentenced to less than 12 months, five years will need to elapse from the end of his sentence. He would also have to seek independent advice on how to apply as it may be a complicated process.
JohnL - 17-Mar-15 @ 10:29 AM
And as well when police in uk came after him he was got fake ID but he disn't even work with this ID because he was got this fake only about 1 month
Jfomenko24 - 13-Mar-15 @ 9:26 PM
Hi. My boyfriend has been extradited frim uk 02.02.2015 because 8 years ago he run from Poland he was selling drug and aftet 8 years there find him and now there are send him to Poland for 4 yearsin jail if he can go back to Uk after 4 years and what he will be need to do?thanks
Jfomenko24 - 13-Mar-15 @ 9:20 PM
@curtis - you would need to give more information as this is a little confusing.
AboutImmigration - 4-Mar-15 @ 11:52 AM
I was extradited from Spain Las year without my passport. My friend from Spain has brought my passport back. If I wanted to fly with this passport, would it he valid and be able to use or because of the extradition and flying without a passport does this mean it becomes a void document of identity
curtis - 1-Mar-15 @ 10:44 PM
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