EU criminal records system upgrade approved by MEPs

An upgrade of the EU's system for exchanging criminal records is a step closer after the European Parliament's Home Affairs Committee approved the draft plans.

MEPs adopted a proposal that is being steered through the parliament by Conservative MEP Timothy Kirkhope to extend the European Criminal Records Information System (ECRIS) to include non-EU nationals, and to include the storage of fingerprints, and to encourage the sharing of information received by non-EU countries.

ECRIS allows for the efficient exchange of information on criminal convictions between EU Member States when requested by a judge or prosecutor.

Mr Kirkhope has also amended the proposal to enable the information exchanged in ECRIS to also be made available for the purposes of background checks on persons working with children and in caring professions.

Following today's vote Mr Kirkhope, the European Conservatives and Reformists Group Home Affairs spokesman, will meet with representatives of the EU governments in 'trilogue' to find agreement on the legislation.

He said:

“We need to restore public confidence that we are able to monitor who comes into the EU, and to find people who could represent a threat. Checking people against our existing criminal records databases, and making exchanging that information much easier, will go a long way towards showing that we can find those people who mean us harm, amongst the vast majority who do not.

"Following this vote, I now intend to work swiftly with EU governments so that we can put in place an effective system without delay."