The growing level of criminality of British fugitives living and hiding in Spain has prompted Crimestoppers to launch a new campaign on the Costa del Sol.

The three-month pilot project, named Operation Captura, will identify serious criminals wanted by UK law enforcement agencies for crimes committed in the UK.

 British and Spanish authorities will officially launch the project in Malaga, on Spain’s south coast, today. The campaign highlights appeals for information on criminals who have European arrest warrants issued for them for serious crimes such as drug trafficking, murder and currency counterfeiting.

Crimestoppers director of operations Dave Cording said: "This project started because of the growing level of criminality coming from British criminals, who are living and hiding in Spain, primarily on the Costa del Sol.

"We particularly want to promote this campaign to the law-abiding British ex-pat community in Spain who may unknowingly be living next door to a wanted criminal. Despite law enforcement efforts, these criminals are living a charmed life in Spain, avoiding arrest, and some are still committing serious crimes."

Crimestoppers said British criminals who previously saw Spain as a safe haven should be warned that since 1985 there has been an extradition treaty in place between Britain and Spain.

In January 2004, European arrest warrants came into effect, making it easier to bring British criminals back into the UK justice system.