Schengen Information System
House of Lords
Baroness Ludford (Liberal Democrat)
To ask Her Majesty's Government why they did not arrange to access the police data in Schengen Information System (SIS) soon after 2000; and what the impact is on United Kingdom security in general, and the 2012 Olympics in particular, in the light of doubts about whether SIS II will be functioning by then.
Lord West of Spithead (Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Security and Counter-terrorism), Home Office; Labour)
Following approval of the UK's application to join the police and judicial co-operation arrangements in Schengen, work began to deliver our connectivity to the Schengen Information System (SIS) in 2002. However, before this could become operational the European Commission proposed the development of an upgraded system (SIS II). The date by which the European Commission initially envisaged that SIS II would be operational was very close to the planned UK date for access to the original system. Furthermore, the original SIS does not include biometric information and is therefore a much weaker control tool than other capabilities that are already in place or being implemented by the UK and our European partners. Ministers therefore took the decision that the UK should refocus its resources on the development of connectivity to SIS II, which will ultimately provide the UK with better functionality than the original SIS.
The Government have now approved a 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Safety and Security Strategy which sets out how we will achieve our aim of a safe and secure Games in keeping with the Olympic culture and spirit. This strategy provides a framework for programmes run by the police and other agencies and by the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) and the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG). The Government have also endorsed an outline 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Safety and Security National Concept of Operations which describes how the strategy will be delivered. The Olympic security programme is intended to be flexible and make use of available technology and resources.
Changes to Schengen arrangements are not central to our security planning.