The UK Government's proposal to withdraw from European Union law and order measures could make the UK "a refuge for foreign criminals", Scottish chief constables have warned.
Opting-out of the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) and data sharing measures would create more bureaucracy, cost money, and remove officers from frontline policing, said the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (Acpos).
The Prime Minister indicated last year that the Government would opt the UK out of the laws, including the EAW, sparking a rift with his Liberal Democrat deputy Nick Clegg. Mr Cameron is under pressure from Tory eurosceptics to loosen Britain's ties with the EU as the bloc's eurozone members move towards greater integration.
In a new submission to the Lords European Union Committee's inquiry into the proposal to opt out of the EU justice measures in 2014, Acpos warned that the move would make the UK "vulnerable to an increased risk of foreign criminals and criminality".
Acpos said: "Scottish officers will encounter complex and protracted processes when dealing with offenders effectively both within the Scottish and European criminal justice process and partner agencies. This could effectively isolate the UK in respect of serious and organised cross-border crime, thus providing a refuge for foreign criminals within our borders."
Acpos's submission was sent to the committee last Wednesday and is published in its list of written evidence.
Campaign group Justice Across Borders earlier outlined a number of Scottish criminals and suspects apprehended as a result of the European measures. They include a suspected paedophile, accused of abusing two primary school girls in Central Scotland, and a cocaine trafficker from the Grampian area, both of whom fled to Spain.
Last month Polish national Grzegorz Gamla was convicted of the murder of fellow Pole Maciej Ciania in Edinburgh after being brought back from Poland.
The committee also received submissions from the Law Society of Scotland, the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service and Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill. The Law Society said the case for opt-out "has not been made and doing so is likely to cause significant difficulties for criminal investigations and to lead to increased costs".
According to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, an opt-out of the EAW would see "Scottish fugitives remain at large in serious cases while more foreign criminals would remain at large on our streets with little or no information available to the Scottish authorities about the risk they present to the public".