The PrümConvention which provides for the exchange of DNA, Fingerprint, and vehicle data across the EU was signed on 27th May 2005 at Prüm, Germany by the following EU states
- French Republic
The convention allows for the exchange all DNA, fingerprint and vehicle data. It contains provisions for the deployment of armed sky marshals on intra-Schengen flights, joint police patrols, and entry of armed police forces into another state. Also it is possible that a foreign police officer responsible for an operation in another state may, in thoery, decide how far the local police forces take part in the operation. The Prüm Convention, also know as the Prüm Treaty or Schengen III Agreement, was adopted into EU regulations for Schengen states in June 2007.
The UK has also joined the convention, with Home Office Minister Joan Ryan signing the treaty in Luxembourg, in June 2007. Joan Ryan (pictured) is a Labour MP for Enfield North. She voted for the national ID card scheme, for student load top up fees, for the Iraq war, and for the Labour anti-terror laws. She also voted against an investigation into an Iraq war. The UK has opted out of the principle within the Prüm Convention that allows foreign police officers to enter another state, without prior consent or notice.
Due to the nature of the data exchange under this convention/treaty this has provided a lot of discussion and concern amongst commentators and law makers both in the House of Commons, House of Lords alike
On 22nd April 2008 David Davies, the shadow home secretary, asked for an update from Jacqui Smith (the Home Secretary) on the state of this UK’s process of joining the Prum Convention. Jacqui Smith stated:
“The EU Council Decision on the stepping up of cross-border co-operation (also know as the Prum Council Decision) provides improved arrangements for the sharing of fingerprint, DNA and vehicle registration data by law enforcement authorities. For example, where a DNA sample retrieved from a crime scene is searched against a national database and no match is found, the Council Decision permits for that data to be transmitted and searched through member states’ national databases. A notification is sent to the requesting member state notifying of a hit or no hit i.e. matching profile. If a match is identified, further requests for information are processed through existing secure police channels allowing for appropriate data protection safeguards.
The UK expects to begin sharing data in this way within three years of adoption and publication of the legal text”
In 2007 the European Data Protection Supervisor (Mr Peter Hustinx) commented that “the Prüm Convention has been set up as a ‘laboratory’ for cross border exchange of information, in particular DNA and fingerprints.”
The House of Lords has raised numerous issues with the Prum Convention in their report PRUM CONVENTION: EFFECTIVE WEAPON AGAINST TERRORISM AND CRIME?
During this report they raised the concern that the data the exchange could be “unfair”, due to the DNA collection policies of the UK, which are out of kilter with the rest of the EU and the world. The House of Lords Stated that:
“The exchange of information, particularly by reciprocal access to national databases, must be subject to accountability. It needs appropriate guarantees as to the accuracy and security of the data, as well as procedures for recording data exchanges, and restrictions on the use of information exchanged”
The reason the UK is out of kilter with the rest of the world is due to several changes in the law, that allows the police to take and retain DNA to be kept for people who are innocent of any crime. This particular issue is being challenged in the ECHR in the case of S and Marper v UK
Despite these concerns the German Presidency, who are pushing the Prum Convention, did not engage to the House of Lords who were reporting on the Prum Convention. The Lords stated “”We put on record our regret that the German Presidency should have been unwilling to discuss with the Committee of a national Parliament an initiative to which we, like them, attach great importance.”
As the UK DNA Database increases dramatically (it already exceed 4.5 million records), there is increasing concern about this database and therefore the exchange of data. The UK’s Information Commissioner has stated “I welcome a debate on the future of the [DNA] database especially as there is unfairness with the current system and the issue has received little public debate to date. However, to extend the database further has serious implications for people’s privacy in this country.” This is compounded by the fact that there are numerous errors with the DNA database, including 550,000 miss spelt names.
Other postings on the subject are:
Memo regarding the Prum Convention prum-convention