Skip to main content

Fingerprints: EC Countries

Volume 460: debated on Thursday 17 May 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of proposals for a centralised EU database of fingerprints; what estimate has been made of the (a) set up costs and (b) annual running costs of the database; and if he will make a statement. (137518)

The Government believe that cross-border information exchange is fundamental to the fight against organised crime and terrorism and have therefore supported various EU initiatives to improve the exchange of information between member states. This includes a proposal currently under negotiation to facilitate the electronic exchange of data on fingerprints, DNA and vehicle registration between member states, known as the Prüm Council Decision.

The Government have doubts however about the need for a centralised EU fingerprint database as suggested by the European Commission in its Annual Policy Strategy Communication for 2008. In particular, the Government will be looking to the Commission for a clear assessment of what added value this would bring to the Prüm Council Decision.

The European Commission has yet to present the detail of its proposal, without which the Government cannot undertake a cost assessment. However, the Government have estimated that the start up costs for implementation of the Prüm Council Decision would be around £31 million. This includes running costs for the first year, which would be around £2.5 million. The Government believe that this is justified by the practical benefits to be gained from the enhanced information sharing arrangements.