articles | 11 February 2016 | Soteris Pittas & Co LLC

An update of the European Criminal Records Information System

An efficient exchange of information on criminal convictions referred to as the European Criminal Records Information System has been introduced between Member States in order to help improve the security of citizens within the European Area of Freedom, Security and Justice. The national courts when passing sentences refer to the past convictions in their national register and fail to have any knowledge of possible convictions of the particular defendant in other Member States. This particularly benefited the defendants as they could easily escape their past convictions by moving between EU Member States. As a result in 2009 Members of the European Union took a decision to introduce a system of exchanging information on criminal records with one another.

Furthermore, in order to improve the system to facilitate the exchange of criminal records of non-EU citizens in the EU, on the 19th of January 2016 the European Commission proposed to upgrade the European Criminal Records Information System. This proposal was the outcome of problems that existed in the current system which was rather time consuming since a Member State desiring to carry out a background check on a non-EU citizen had to send individual requests to all the concerned Member States in order to obtain a complete overview of the person's criminal history.

As a result, as part of the European Agenda on Security, the Commission is taking steps to adapt to new and evolving threats by ensuring that the criminal convictions of third country nationals convicted in the EU can be easily accessed in the European Criminal Records Information System. This potential new improvement in the system would certainly ensure better security for all citizens throughout the EU, boost and improve the judicial cooperation but also cut costs and improve efficiency as a whole.

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