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Serious and Organised Crime: Prüm Convention

Part of Bill Presented – in the House of Commons at 4:16 pm on 8th December 2015.

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Photo of Andy Burnham Andy Burnham Shadow Home Secretary 4:16 pm, 8th December 2015

I think the whole House will find that explanation helpful. I would share the concerns of the hon. Member for Stone and others if the match could then trigger a European arrest warrant immediately without any other evidence. I think everybody would find that worrying, but the right hon. Lady has reassured the House on that point.

It is also reassuring that only people convicted of recordable crime can be searched by another police force. That still does not take away the higher level of concern that there would be over the sharing of DNA profiles from named individuals. Does the Home Secretary feel that there should be a higher proportionality test in this area, linked to more serious crime and terrorism, and does she favour a stricter test before DNA information can be shared with another police force? That is an area in which a higher safeguard could be introduced. It might be effective in limiting blanket person-to-person searches, which bring potential for abuse.

Who will take the decision to share personal information if a match is made? Will it be a designated individual in a police force or will all decisions be taken at a national level by NCA officials? It is important to be clear about who will be making these decisions. Will it be an individual who makes only one or two such decisions in the course of a year, or an official who deals with many of them? I think people will have more confidence in someone who deals with a good number, because they will be able to weed out the more frivolous requests.

Will all participating nations collect DNA profiles and fingerprints from crime scenes using a shared quality assurance standard? There is concern about the lack of uniformity across Europe, and people will want some reassurance on that matter. Finally, will the Home Secretary expand on the role of the European Court of Justice when it comes to the Prüm decision, if we choose to opt into it? As I understand it, it is quite a minor extension of its jurisdiction and there is not the fear that has been expressed by some in the motion.

With those caveats—I insist that they are just caveats—I conclude by saying that we on the Labour Benches believe that the Government have reached the right decision, albeit they have done so in a roundabout way, and that they deserve our support this evening. I hope they agree that this whole issue and the way in which we have arrived at this point illustrate how our continued membership of the European Union enhances the security of our country in these difficult times. The Home Secretary has made a convincing and powerful case tonight to rejoin the Prüm decision, and she will have our support in taking an important step to catch more criminals and keep our country safe.