The UK has reportedly moved to join up to a key EU initiative to exchange law enforcement data such as fingerprints, DNA and vehicle registrations.
According to a leading observer of the EU-wide justice scene, Jonathan Goldsmith, the application to opt in to the 2005 Prum Convention on cross-border cooperation was one of four notifications made by the UK in the immediate run-up to the supposed Brexit dates of 29 March and 12 April.
Goldsmith, a council member for EU affairs at the Law Society of England and Wales, writes in the Law Society Gazette that the UK has also announced its intention to join Eurodac, a centralised database of asylum seekers and illegal border crossers found within the EU.
Another “surprising” move has been to notify acceptance of governance changes to the Eurojust cooperation unit for investigations and prosecutions. Under the changes the body becomes the EU Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation, with a remit of supporting national authorities in investigations and discovering links between cases.
Earlier this month the UK notified the EU that it wishes to take part in the adoption and application of changes to the European Criminal Records Information System (ECRIS).
This database enables information on convictions to be exchanged between member states in a uniform, fast and compatible way. It gives judges and prosecutors access to comprehensive information on the criminal history of requested people, including in which EU countries that person has previously been convicted.
Goldsmith notes that the UK has been under no obligation to opt into any of these measures, as they all fall under the category of measures from which it has the right of opt out.
There have been concerns about the UK being shut out of European anti-crime databases post-Brexit: as recently as last December the prime minister acknowledged it was a strong possibility, prompting criticisms from Parliament’s Home Affairs Committee.
So far the Home Office, which manages the UK’s overseas relationships on crime issues, has not responded to questions on the measures.
Image adapted from work by Neurosurgeon23, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons