The House of Lords European Union Committee produced a report on 18th September 2007 into the Prum Convention with the title “Prum: Effective Weapon Against Terrorism and Crime?”.
The House of Lords raised several concerns including:
- That police could enter any other state without permission
- That the DNA exchange would be unfair
The first point has since been removed, so that police officers from foreign country’s can not simply enter the UK.
The second issue, raises several interesting points. The House of Lords believe that the DNA exchange would be “unfair”, because the reasons for collection in the UK are much lower, i.e innocent people, witnesses etc, have their DNA and Fingerprints taken and stored. Where as most countries require guilt to retain this data. This means two things 1) foreign goverments can access the DNA and fingerprint records of entirely innocent people 2) the House of Lords recognize the the UK is out of kilter with the rest of the world in its collection of a DNA database.
The House of Lords goes further, and is not just concerned about the exchange DNA data, but data in general:
“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 House of Lords, raised many of these issues including with the German government who not only hold the European Presidency, but are also pushing for the Prum Convention more than any other country. The German government have been demonstrating the effectiveness of the exchange of data with their neighbors Austria. and as such have produced very successful arrest and clear up rates from this. Over 1,000 murders were solved the Germans reported. However, these figures are skewed for two reasons; firstly the goverments were clearing up old cases that they have a lot of, and so this is not comparable to day to day exchange of information. Secondly the countries are neighbors, and closely tied, therefore there is a greater probability of population exchange in this manner. Would the same statistics be true for Hungry and the UK, on a day to day basis? The fact that the German government is pushing the Prum Treaty, but not answering the difficult questions about it, concerned the House of Lords so much that they 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.”
The full report is available here – Prume – Effective Weapon against crime