The Prum Treaty: a disaster waiting to happen’?

dna-3The Prüm Treaty may yet be implemented in the UK as a report shows that the European Commission plans to force the UK to allow other member states access to personal details of every motorist in Britain as well as access to the national DNA database and fingerprint records.

The Home Secretary has indicated that she is minded to opt out of the European Home Affairs Injustice measures in 2014, a step that would enable a full and frank discussion on how to sufficiently protect the rights of UK citizens. We can now hope that the Home Secretary will share the same robustness towards the European Commission on this matter.

Academics in the Netherlands, which have been running the scheme for four years, found that two-thirds of DNA ‘matches’ at the lowest level wrongly identified an innocent person as a genetic match. At worst, this could lead to a wrongly identified UK citizen being placed under the European Arrest Warrant and sent to another country.

In the report, the Commission itself admits that there are vulnerabilities in the regime, whilst at the same time threatening that it may bring ‘infringement proceedings’ against the UK if the Prüm Treaty is not implemented by the end of 2014.Dominic Raab MP, who uncovered the report, called the scheme ‘Orwellian’ and said that the scheme was ‘a disaster waiting to happen’.

We have warned about the Prüm Treaty before. The Treaty, which was signed under the last government and should have come into effect two years ago, aims to improve the exchanges of information between authorities responsible for the prevention and investigation of criminal offences. The convention would allow powers like: the automated access to the national DNA database; access to national vehicle registration data; supply of data in relation to ‘major events’; supply of information in order to prevent ‘terrorist offences’; any other measures for stepping up cross-border police cooperation.

Considering there are millions of innocent people’s DNA still remaining on the database, and there are huge concerns about the operation of extradition law it would be extremely irresponsible for the Home Secretary to implement the Treaty. It is utterly unacceptable for the European Commission to demand that access to this information is provided whilst at the same time acknowledging that systems should be designed “in a better way so as to avoid matches that are identified as false upon subsequent verification.” The Home Secretary should remain unstirred by the demands and should put the security of UK citizens information before the whims of the Commission.