Memorandum by Association
of Chief Police Officers, Scotland (ACPOS)
Does the fight against terrorism require much
greater operational co-operation and freer exchange of data between
law enforcement authorities (both national and EU)?
There is no doubt that the fight against terrorism
is an international one and requires an international response.
This will necessitate closer co-operation between Member States,
although the existing arrangements, if interpreted correctly,
seem fit for purpose.
The exchange of information, particularly in
relation to matters of national security, does take place, with
the Security Service acting as the recipient and central collation
point for the majority of such information. Whilst the secure
Cluster messaging system linking United Kingdom Law Enforcement
Agencies allows information transfer, there is currently no accessible
database to allow police forces to interrogate National Security
intelligence. The ability to do this would significantly benefit
investigations. At European Union level, it may be that the ability
to exchange such data should be limited to a body such as Europol,
with the ability to monitor investigations in Member States.
The Commission calls for the establishment of
the principle of equivalent access to data by national law enforcement
authorities in the EU. To what extent would this challenge the
fundamental legal and constitutional principles of Member States?
Though individual law enforcement agencies throughout
the EU will co-operate fully on all aspects of the investigation
of terrorist activity, it is unlikely that many would support
the concept of equivalent access. This has implications affecting
the intelligence gathering process and would impact directly upon
the legal and constitutional principles of Member States to some
Currently, Europol undertakes the role of dealing
with matters pertaining to criminal intelligence from throughout
Europe. This model functions well and has demonstrated an ability
to improve the effectiveness and co-operation between Member States.
The Commission calls for the interoperability
of EU databases. What are the implications of a facility for transferring
data between databases? Is there a case for a centralised EU database
for all law enforcement purposes?
The establishment of full interoperability of
all law enforcement databases would be a mammoth task. The Schengen
Information System provides a model for a degree of integration,
though further attempts at closer ties are likely to meet with
considerable resistance from most law enforcement agencies and
governments of individual Member States.
In the UK, there are occasional difficulties
achieving compatibility in the exchange of data between north
and south of the border, although the introduction of the Scottish
Intelligence Database (SID) has resulted in significant progress
being made within Scotland. Similar work in relation to the National
Special Branch Information System (NSBIS) is also ongoing and
will afford the sharing of terrorist/extremist intelligence across
the UK. It is considered likely that there will be legal and practical
challenges in the future regarding the population and sharing
of intelligence on NSBIS and while the ability to interrogate
a similar intelligence system across Europe would be beneficial,
it is suggested that the debate would be far better informed from
a sound platform and through experience gained from the creation
of UK-wide functionality for NSBIS and any SID equivalent.
Whilst crucial to ensure the integrity of each
individual system, the existing legislation, with appropriate
deliberation and agreement, would require amendment to allow progress
of these issues. The associated challenges are considerable although
not insurmountable and may be resolved if sufficient political
will exists to do so.
Would current data protection arrangements continue
to provide an adequate level of protection for the individual
if the collection and exchange of data were increased on the scale
envisaged? Is there a need for a common EU data protection legal
framework for the Third pillar, as advocated by the Commission?
Provided that the numbers of those staff with
responsibility for administering the current data protection arrangements
are increased in line with that envisaged by the Commission, there
should be no requirement to alter arrangements as they stand at
present. While there will be a need to establish a policy to ensure
commonality of data protection processes throughout the EU, this
may impinge unnecessarily upon individual Member States' legislative
Should there be common standards for the transfer
of personal data from EU bodies and Member States to third countries/bodies,
Individual Member States will have their own
data protection arrangements, and from a UK perspective, to ensure
that confidence in the system is maintained, it is crucial that
the existing high standards demanded by UK data protection legislation
are mirrored in any system overseen or administered by the Commission.
The appointment of a Data Protection Officer and Joint Supervisory
Body at Eurojust to ensure commonality of standards should be
sufficient to monitor the effectiveness and justification for
the transfer of data between Member States.
Is there a need for an EU intelligence policy,
as advocated by the Commission? To what extent can EU objectives
be identified separate from those of the Member States?
Though the threat to Western democracies from
international terrorism undoubtedly affects the EU members as
a whole, a common EU intelligence policy would be extremely difficult
to implement given the varied domestic problems that affect a
large number of Member States. To this end, the EU should have
a common voice in tackling international terrorism, though it
should guarantee individual Member States the freedom to act individually
concerning domestic issues.
How important is it for the EU to speak with one
voice in the international arena in matters involving counter-terrorism
It is extremely important that the EU should
be able to present a united front in terms of counter-terrorism
co-operation, though this is likely to be restricted to generalisations,
as the interests of Member States will occasionally give cause
for discussion at a governmental level.
The UK recently hosted a summit of five Member
States ("G5") to examine measures to combat terrorism.
Do moves of this kind prejudice EU wide initiatives?
Individual Member States should be encouraged
to discuss measures designed to counter terrorist operations.
The recent "G5" Summit discussed key issues that affect
all Member States and these are likely to be the subject of further
high level talks. These smaller Summits of influential members
can only benefit the EU as a whole, although the accessibility
by Member States to the decision making process will determine
how they are regarded.
What is the added value of the post of EU Counter-Terrorism
Co-ordinator? What should his/her role be?
The suggestion of a post of Co-ordinator for
Counter Terrorism for the EU is one that has considerable merit.
The main role of the post holder should be to
encourage greater co-operation between Member States through the
existing arrangements, while identifying areas where individual
Member States acting together can best progress investigations
to their mutual benefit. Such a post will provide a conduit for
the most effective use, on an international scale, of available
information so as to maximise the effectiveness of any proposed
The Co-ordinator's role should include:
The creation of a definition of terrorism
which enables nation states to challenge all of those groups who
would threaten our peace by use of violence.
The ability to bring together lead
figures across EU states responsible for CT responses with a view
to initiating best practice in their endeavours.
The responsibility to set standards
in terms of training, recruitment, IT systems and standard procedures.
The responsibility to ensure that
appropriate levels of exchange occur between and across States
to enable effective operational planning to occur.
Membership of and responsibility
for the secretariat of a strategic high level steering group tasked
with implementing a counter terrorist strategy for the EU. Membership
of the group should include Europol, Eurojust, CPO Task Force,
etc. The steering group should have direct access to the Commission
and should be answerable to the Commission for its decisions.
Access to a level of budget that
would enable the necessary charges to be initiated.
What changes are called for in the EU's institutional
arrangements (including Eurojust, Europol, the Chief Police Officers'
Task Force and the Terrorism Working Group) in order to combat
terrorism more effectively?
With due regard to the constitutional and legislative
arrangements in place for each Member State, greater co-operation
is required across all levels between those responsible for intelligence
gathering, the implementation of operational plans and the prosecution
of arrested individuals. These processes require to be addressed
in a structured manner, so that all the constituent agencies are
aware of their responsibilities and how their efforts can best
impact upon counter terrorist activities.
Eurojust, whilst a fledgling agency, has the
capability to grow and ensure the jurisdiction of member states
is addressed in relation to investigations spreading across many
borders. Again, Europol is beginning to have an impact in relation
to criminal matters, particularly drugs. With expansion and a
legislated constitution to accommodate terrorist matters, this
organisation could provide the required structure. The Sirene
Bureau at NCIS is now linked into other bureaux throughout Europe,
under the Schengen Agreement, allowing the ability of Law Enforcement
agencies to track persons throughout Europe.
What contribution can EU level training and in
particular the EU Police College (CEPOL) make?
It is clear that, whilst Europe continues to
expand, our understanding of each other's constitutions and Law
Enforcement capabilities requires to be developed. There would
be value in training individuals involved in terrorist investigations,
to encompass a more complete awareness of how other EU Countries
would interact in a cross border investigation. Clearly, this
would be limited to senior investigators who would be likely to
be involved in such investigations and those responsible for the
gathering and transfer of related intelligence.
In the past 18 months, CEPOL has developed its
focus, with results demonstrating the positive impact and value
it can have for senior police officers from throughout Europe.
In addition, the college has fostered a good spirit of co-operation
between National Training Centres, encouraging debate on future
training needs for senior police officers.
The main difficulty, as recognised by participants
and those responsible for training issues in the police environment
throughout the EU, is in identifying an audience of appropriately
qualified police officers who have a sufficient command of the
English language to benefit from the learning opportunities.
William Rae, QPM
(Hon Secretary ACPOS)
9 September 2004