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EU to extend criminal records database to include foreign nationals

January 20, 2016 11:21 PM
Originally published by South Central Region Liberal Democrats

An EU database of criminal records is set to be extended to include non-EU citizens, under plans announced today by the European Commission.

The European Criminal Records System (ECRIS) was set up in 2012 to make it easier for national authorities to exchange information about previous criminal convictions. Each year around 288,000 requests are made through the system. But currently non-EU nationals are not included, making it difficult for national authorities to find out whether they have been convicted for any crimes in other EU countries.

Today's proposal would ensure that criminal convictions of people from outside the EU are added to the shared database, allowing EU countries to easily and rapidly exchange information about any crimes they may have committed. The fingerprints of non-EU nationals would also be included in the ECRIS system.

The Liberal Democrats called for the ECRIS to be extended in their 2014 European elections' manifesto.

Liberal Democrat MEP Catherine Bearder said:

"Quicker exchange of information on foreign nationals will help police catch potential suspects and keep the public safe.

"This shows how working together in Europe make us stronger in the fight against the terrorists and criminal gangs who despise our way of life."

Notes to Editors

More information about today's proposal can be found here: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-16-87_en.htm

Next steps: the proposal will be now be debated on and voted on by MEPs and national ministers. The UK can choose to opt out of the proposal, but it is expected the UK government will choose to opt in as it already takes part in the current ECRIS system.

In their 2014 European manifesto the Liberal Democrats said they will "work to extend the European Union's criminal record information system (ECRIS) so that our police have better information about potential suspects, while respecting individuals' privacy, irrespective of their nationality."