EU planning information system to share criminal records data

The European Commission has adopted a proposal for a Council Decision on the establishment of the European Criminal Records Information System (ECRIS).

Jun 19, 2008
By Paul Jacques
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The European Commission has adopted a proposal for a Council Decision on the establishment of the European Criminal Records Information System (ECRIS).

“To reinforce the European Area of Security and Justice, and to ensure the security of citizens, it is important to establish at European level a concrete and user-friendly system which will enable an efficient exchange of information on previous convictions of criminals,” said Vice-president Jacques Barrot, Commissioner responsible for Justice Freedom and Security.

He added: “Information about previous convictions 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.”

A study carried out by the Commission in 2006 to examine the current situation of exchange of information on criminal records demonstrated that the existing mechanisms did not yield reliable results. National courts frequently passed sentences on the sole basis of the past convictions featuring in their national register, without any knowledge of convictions in other Member States. More generally, this information, which is of particular relevance for various purposes such as access to certain types of jobs, does not circulate properly.

The proposal is aimed at giving concrete tools to all 27 Member States for the exchange of easy-to-use information between European countries with different criminal legal systems, different languages, as well as different alphabets.

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