Security boost to UK
More foreign terrorists, murderers and paedophiles will be kept out of the country after the UK successfully negotiated access to vital European data.
The Second Generation Schengen Information System (SISII) will provide law enforcement alerts on wanted criminals, suspected terrorists, missing people, and stolen or missing property.
A meeting of ministers in Europe has formally approved the UK joining the system on 13 April 2015.
Immigration and Security Minister James Brokenshire said:
Foreign criminals and terrorists have no place in the UK and this government is using every resource available to root them out and protect the British public.
We have an outstanding system of public protection that is rightly held up as an example across the world. SIS II will strengthen this and provide another vital weapon in the fight against global crime and terrorism.
The system will give us access to alerts that could help prevent terror attacks, trace vulnerable people, bring offenders back to the UK to face justice, and stop dangerous foreign criminals before they reach our shores.
Real time alerts
The system, currently used by 28 European countries, will provide real-time alerts to speed up the exchange of information on wanted foreign criminals. Warnings from other countries will automatically appear on the Police National Computer and on border watch lists, helping to stop offenders slipping unnoticed into the UK. And alerts can be issued by the UK to help find and bring to justice criminals who offend here and flee abroad.
SISII will also help tackle the terror threat from foreign fighters returning from Syria and Iraq, tracking them as they travel around Europe. The system already contains 1,500 discreet warnings on people believed to pose a serious national security risk, with numbers continuing to rise in the wake of the Paris terror attacks.
Benefits by numbers
SIS II will give the UK access to details of:
- Around 250,000 wanted or missing people, including 37,000 European Arrest Warrants (EAWs). EAWs were previously circulated to the UK for more serious crimes or where there was a known link to this country;
- Over 43,000 discreet alerts for national and public security threats, this includes alerts for suspected foreign fighters;
- Over 60,000 alerts for missing children and vulnerable adults speeding up the process of finding those who have been abducted and identifying the victims of human trafficking;
- Over 100,000 alerts for judicial purposes, such as a court summons; and
- 40 million alerts on identity documents, three million on vehicles, and eight million on other lost or stolen items.
Although the UK will connect to SIS II on 13 April 2015 the security benefits will begin even sooner with data starting to be shared by Member States by March, meaning immediate action can be taken if serious offenders are identified in this country.