EU: UK Must Share More Data to Access Crime-fighting System

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A European parliamentary committee has said that the UK's access to an EU crime-fighting system should be blocked unless the country shares more DNA and fingerprint data with member states.

The Justice and Home Affairs Committee, chaired by Spanish socialist MEP Juan-Fernando López-Aguilar, claims that the UK is denying member states access to a sufficient amount of fingerprint data collected by British police. 

López-Aguilar said that when it came to sharing data in the battle against crime, the exchange of information between different countries should be based on "the goodwill of reciprocity."

The views of the committee were expressed in a vote that took place yesterday. Although not binding, the outcome of the vote could have an impact on EU decisionmakers as the UK negotiates a post-Brexit deal on the sharing of DNA, fingerprint data, and crime-fighting intelligence with the EU.

López-Aguilar said he hoped that the UK and EU could establish a data-sharing relationship that was "mutually beneficial."

“We would like the UK to move our way," the MEP told The Guardian, "to move forward to European Union standards for the sake of building up a future relationship that is mutually beneficial and thus not giving any space for the advantage of not being a member of the European Union and yet enjoying all the information tools.” 

Following Theresa May's 2015 decision as the UK's Home Secretary to opt into the EU's crime-fighting system, the British government last year began exchanging DNA records of convicted British-based criminals with EU member states. 

The EU wants the UK to go one step further and share the DNA data of British-based criminal suspects, but the British government has declined to do so, despite getting access to equivalent data on suspects located in EU countries.

Using the DNA exchange system, British police can check the genetic code of EU criminals and criminal suspects in 15 minutes, compared with the 143 days it takes to achieve the same result through Interpol.

Unlike the DNA exchange system that is up and running, the fingerprint equivalent is due to be voted on by the European parliament next week.

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