EU aims to share criminal records among member states

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Officials say a computerised database allowing EU member states to share criminal records of their citizens will play a key role in crime prevention.

3 June 2008

BRUSSELS - The European Commission proposed Friday creating a computerised database allowing European Union member states to share the criminal records of their citizens.

Officials in Brussels argue that a European Criminal Records Information System (ECRIS) would play a key role in crime prevention.

Their proposal follows a 2006 study which found that the current system of exchanging information about criminals is not working.

One of its finding was that national courts rarely know whether a defendant has already been convicted in another member states.

Officials say the ECRIS is designed to help exchange criminal records between member states which have different criminal legal systems, different languages, and even different alphabets.

"Information about previous conviction shall circulate between judges and prosecutors as well as police authorities. This is essential in order to provide adequate responses to crime but also to prevent new crimes from being committed ", said Jacques Barrot, the European executive's top justice official.

The commission plans to create a software linking the various national databases by the beginning of 2009.

In order to address concerns by civil rights advocates, the criminal records would not be centralised and would only be stored in databases operated by member states.

The commission's proposal will need to be approved by EU governments.

[dpa / Expatica]

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