Britain’s biggest police force is to forge a unit of foreign officers in a bid to tackle the growing threat from overseas offenders.
The Metropolitan Police said it has requested 2.2 million euros (£1.9m) of European Union funding to allow officers from other countries to be seconded to the force. Romania and Poland have already agreed to sign up.
The officers would share intelligence and join Met officers on operations, Scotland Yard said, but it is understood they would not have powers of arrest.
The top 10 countries of origin of those arrested are Romania, Nigeria, Somalia, Jamaica, Lithuania, Portugal, Poland, India, Pakistan and Ireland, with 40 per cent of all foreign national offenders from these countries, the Met said.
Some 28 per cent of those arrested for a criminal offence in London are foreign nationals, recent Met intelligence showed.
Up to 30 officers would be deployed initially for three years, according to The Times newspaper, and would operate mostly in plain clothes but be able to wear national uniforms if required.
The Met is reportedly in talks with police in Lithuania and Ireland to join the unit, which could be widened if successful.
The unit is understood to form part of Operation Nexus, which combines police and immigration intelligence to tackle foreign criminals in London and has led to the removal of some of the capital’s highest-harm criminals.
More than 300 foreign criminals have been deported since the joint initiative launched by the UK Border Agency (UKBA) and the Metropolitan Police Service at the start of September.
But the move is likely to add to confusion over UK-European relations as Home Secretary Theresa May seeks to withdraw from a raft of EU police and justice agreements. Mrs May said last October that the Government intends to opt out of 130 measures, including the European Arrest Warrant.