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The Metropolitan Police is to form a unit of foreign officers to tackle a growing threat from overseas criminals, it emerged today.

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The service has asked for 2.2 million Euros (£1.9 million) of European Union funding to allow officers from other countries to be seconded to the force. Romania and Poland have agreed already 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, according to the Met.

Some 28 per cent of those arrested for a criminal offence in London are foreign nationals, recent Met intelligence showed.

The Met is reportedly in talks with police in Lithuania and Ireland to join the unit, but if successful it could be widened.

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.

Gill Barratt, vice-chairwoman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, said: “We support the scheme on the basis that funding is provided from outside of the existing Metropolitan Police Service budget.

“The rules of engagement for the seconded officers would need to be carefully considered but such an initiative should bring cultural and operational benefits.”

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