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Passengers: Personal Records

Volume 472: debated on Monday 3 March 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if she will place in the Library a copy of the Government’s presentation to the EU Justice and Home Affairs Council on 25 and 26 January on the UK’s experience of using passenger name record data. (188647)

The presentation contained details that would be inappropriate for public disclosure therefore it cannot be placed in the Library.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what progress has been made on the European Commission’s Passenger Name Record proposal; what the Government’s policy on the proposal is; and if she will make a statement; (188648)

(2) pursuant to the written ministerial statement of 7 February 2008, Official Report, column 82WS, on the Justice and Home Affairs Informal Council, 25 and 26 January 2008, what further work the Government has undertaken into the operation and scope of the use of passenger name record data under the European Commission’s proposal;

(3) what the difficult technical and substantive issues related to use of passenger name record data for law enforcement purposes are.

The European Commission’s proposed legislation on the use of EU PNR for law enforcement purposes was published in November 2007. The Government welcome the EU PNR proposal and believe that it presents an important opportunity to share data in the fight against terrorism and organised crime.

Negotiations are at an early stage. The content of the proposal has been remitted to the Multi-Disciplinary Working Group on Organised Crime for detailed discussions and has also been discussed at a “Friends of the Presidency” meeting. We believe that the proposed instrument must be compatible with UK domestic initiatives, specifically e-Borders, and are seeking to agree minimum standards of harmonisation in many areas of the text. There are a number of issues to be resolved, including the technical challenges presented by the introduction and harmonisation of EU member states’ PNR data processing systems; the application of appropriate data protection safeguards; and achieving consensus over the appropriate scope of the proposed instrument.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what research her Department has conducted into the effectiveness of the use of passenger name record data in preventing people trafficking through airline travel. (188651)

The ability to analyse reservation data to identify persons previously unknown to the law enforcement agencies travel is of significant value to the border agencies. The data elements are provided by carriers and screened using rules based targeting, developed using objective criteria relating to individuals of interest. Where such a passenger is identified, manual analysis of the data is undertaken and, where appropriate, the relevant agency is alerted. The use of these data elements has enabled the identification of persons suspected of involvement in a range of criminal activity.