A Synthesis of the Main Developments at EU Level to Enable an Exchange of Criminal Records

16-02-2006

Four EU Member States are currently piloting a project for networking of their national criminal records. Within the EU as a whole, pressure to improve the exchange of criminal records has been growing steadily in recent years. The deficits of existing procedures have been highlighted by a serious of high-profile cases. New measures are needed to ensure that comprehensive records, be they on sex offenders, terrorists or simply road traffic offenders, are passed quickly from one Member State to another. This note charts recent developments at EU level and explains the legal obligations arising from existing and new instruments. Member States have chosen to maintain the centralisation of criminal records in the state of nationality but they now need to modernise their national criminal records and make them more accessible to other Member States, subject to the necessary legal guarantees. The Commission has proposed two Framework Decisions which would develop technical systems of information exchange and elaborate further obligations relating to the storage and transmission of national criminal records in the EU. Proposals are also on the table which would require judges to take convictions handed down in other Member States into account.

Four EU Member States are currently piloting a project for networking of their national criminal records. Within the EU as a whole, pressure to improve the exchange of criminal records has been growing steadily in recent years. The deficits of existing procedures have been highlighted by a serious of high-profile cases. New measures are needed to ensure that comprehensive records, be they on sex offenders, terrorists or simply road traffic offenders, are passed quickly from one Member State to another. This note charts recent developments at EU level and explains the legal obligations arising from existing and new instruments. Member States have chosen to maintain the centralisation of criminal records in the state of nationality but they now need to modernise their national criminal records and make them more accessible to other Member States, subject to the necessary legal guarantees. The Commission has proposed two Framework Decisions which would develop technical systems of information exchange and elaborate further obligations relating to the storage and transmission of national criminal records in the EU. Proposals are also on the table which would require judges to take convictions handed down in other Member States into account.