Memorandum by HM Revenue and Customs
1.1. Europol is the European Union (EU)
law enforcement organisation that handles criminal intelligence.
Its aim is to improve the effectiveness and co-operation between
the competent authorities of the Member States in preventing and
combating serious international organised crime and terrorism.
The mission of Europol is to make a significant contribution to
the European Union's law enforcement action against organised
crime and terrorism with an emphasis on targeting criminal organisations.
1.2. HMRC regard Europol as a key law enforcement
partner. We have two officers seconded to Europol and work closely
with Europol in the development and exchange of intelligence.
Europol also fulfil a valuable role in facilitating joint operational
activity with European law enforcement agencies and assist us
in developing knowledge and relationships.
2.1. Europol supports the law enforcement
activities of the Member States against serious and organised
crime that is crime where an organised criminal structure is involved
and two or more Member States are affected.
2.2. Europol supports the law enforcement
activities of the Member States by:
facilitating the exchange of information
between Europol and Europol Liaison Officers (ELOs). These ELOs
are seconded to Europol by the Member States as representatives
of their national law enforcement agencies, thus they are not
under the command of Europol and its Director as such. Furthermore,
they act in accordance with their national law.
providing operational analysis and
support to Member States' operations;
providing expertise and technical
support for investigations and operations carried out within the
EU, under the supervision and the legal responsibility of the
generating strategic reports (eg
threat assessments) and crime analysis on the basis of information
and intelligence supplied by Member States or gathered from other
3. HMRC PERSONNEL
3.1. HMRC have a permanent Europol Liaison
Officer seconded from the Criminal Investigation Directorate in
HMRC to the UK Liaison Bureau at Europol (UKLB). The secondment
is due to be reviewed in 2009. The Liaison Officer currently has
responsibility for a number of so called Analytical Work Files
(AWF). AWFs are European wide databases of criminal intelligence
on specific crime areas. The Liaison Officer also represents HMRC
and the UK Liaison Bureau, in other customs related issues such
as alcohol smuggling, and seizures of drugs and weapons at ports
3.2. HMRC have also seconded a National
Expert from Criminal Investigation to the Financial and Property
Crime Unit at Europol. The purpose of this secondment was to ensure
that MTIC (Missing Trader Intra Community) fraud featured in Europol's
Organised Crime Threat Assessment 2007, which defines the crime
areas Europol will focus on in the coming year. The secondee is
currently on his second secondment and has been embedded with
different Europol teams to facilitate the UK initiative to establish
a new work file dealing with MTIC fraud.
4. THE UK LIAISON
4.1. The UKLB is a SOCA managed and lead
office representing UK law enforcement authorities at Europol
on a pan European level. The office maintains a multi agency approach
with SOCA, HMRC, the Metropolitan Police and the Scottish Crime
and Drug Enforcement Agency all represented.
4.2. The Europol convention stipulates that
each Liaison Bureau must have a Europol National Unit (ENU) for
routing intelligence and support. The UK ENU is located at SOCA.
The UKLB is able to facilitate bilateral and multilateral exchanges
of intelligence with or without including the interaction of Europol.
5. THE LIAISON
5.1. The Liaison Bureaux at Europol facilitate
the exchange of intelligence on a bilateral and multilateral basis,
and also between Europol and the competent authorities in EU Member
States. Europol is a multi-disciplinary agency, comprising not
only regular police officers but staff members from the various
law enforcement agencies of the Member States and covering specialised
areas such as customs, immigration services, intelligence services,
border and financial police.
5.2. In May 2007 Europol had 581 staff of
which 116 were ELOs. The Liaison Bureaux currently has a total
of 129 ELOs, representing 65 different law enforcement agencies
from 34 countries.
5.3. One exceptional added value is that
Europol helps to overcome the language barriers in international
law enforcement co-operation. In practice this means that any
law enforcement officer from a Member State can address a request
to their ENU in their native language. The request is then translated
for exchange at Europol where the daily working language is English.
6.1. All 27 Member States of the EU are
represented in the Liaison Bureau Network. Europol also has a
number of cooperation agreements with countries outside the EU
and with other organisations. These fall into two categories,
operational, where personal data can be exchanged, and strategic,
which are limited to strategic intelligence exchanges such as
trends and modus operandi.
6.2. The Information Management Operations
Unit (IMT4) is the designated point of contact for Europol for
the actual information exchange of information with Third Party
countries and organisations. These are countries outside the EU,
with either an operational agreement or a strategic agreement
with Europol. IMT4 is the intelligence gateway, which authorises
and registers the communication of data with Third Parties.
7. EUROPOL COMPUTER
7.1. Information Exchange System (Info Ex)
7.1.1. The Information Exchange System (Info
Ex) is Europol's in-house software system, which facilitates the
exchange of intelligence between Member States, Europol and Third
parties. It provides the possibility of storing, searching, and
analysing information related to trans-national crimes, allowing
law enforcement agencies across Europe to collaborate effectively
in their investigations.
7.1.2. Data inserted in the Info Ex remains
under the full control of the intelligence owner who is responsible
for the accuracy, reliability and storage time limits of the data.
If for example the UK wanted to access data exchanged between
Europol, France and Poland, it could only do so by seeking permission
from the country that owns the data.
7.2. Information System (IS)
7.2.1. The Information System (IS) is another
in-house Europol software system. It holds a European wide data
base of criminal intelligence, which supports automatic detection
of possible hits between different investigations and facilitates
the sharing of sensitive information in a secure and reliable
7.2.2. The types of data stored include:
offences, people, means of transport, communication and payment,
identity documents, drugs, firearms, currency, organisations,
and of course the owner.
7.2.3. Some Member States utilise automatic
data loaders in their ENUs, to populate the IS system with criminal
intelligence from their country. This offers other law enforcement
agencies around Europe a greater chance of obtaining hits against
this intelligence. However the UK is not one of these countries.
8. EUROPOL CRIMINAL
8.1. This team are situated within Europol's
Financial and Property Crime Unit (SC4) and assists investigations
in tracking down and confiscating criminal finances and property.
Among other things they manage the secretariat of the Camden Assets
Recovery Inter-Agency Network (CARIN), an extensive network of
8.2. The primary aim of CARIN is to enhance
the effectiveness of Member States efforts in depriving criminals
of their illicit profits and to encourage cooperation with third
countries in this regard. The group aims to improve cross-border
and inter-agency cooperation as well as information exchange within
and outside the EU. CARIN works on an informal non-coercive nature
placing financial investigators in different countries in touch
with one another.
9.1. Eurojust is an international organisation
of 27 EU prosecutors and judges located in The Hague. It aims
to improve legal co-operation between Member States, and to bring
better co-ordination of cross-border investigations and prosecutions.
It also facilitates the exchange of information and makes recommendations
to change laws and to improve Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) and
extradition arrangements. The UK has three representatives at
Eurojust, Aled Williams from the Crown Prosecution Service, Phil
Hicks from HMRC, and Lynne Barrie from The Crown Office. The UKLB
and the UK representatives at Eurojust have regular interaction
about cases concerning operational and legal advice.
10. HMRC ENGAGEMENT
10.1. AWF Smoke
The main area of work HMRC engage with Europol over
is AWF Smoke. Prior to the secondment of an HMRC officer to Europol
in June 2006, HMRC were contributing on a sporadic basis to AWF
Smoke and were ranked at 5th from last among the Member States
contributing to the work file. Since then the UK has consistently
been in the top three and are currently the largest contributor
of tobacco fraud intelligence in Europe with 36 out of 135 contributions
(26.66%) in the last quarter of 2007. However there is still a
strong reluctance from HMRC to share sensitive intelligence with
other Member States through Europol channels. The Fiscal Crime
Liaison Officer (FCLO) Network is the preferred route.
10.2. AWF MTIC
AWF MTIC opened on 2 April 2008 and is a UK
lead initiative to combat abuse of the tax system by organised
criminal groups. The aim is to provide a European platform for
collating and analysing data from Member States MTIC investigations.
10.3. Controlled deliveries
Since October 2006 the UKLB has facilitated
a total of 40 controlled deliveries of drugs found in freight
and parcel detections. 34 of these were found by HMRC in the UK
and offered to Member States, mainly Spain, The Netherlands, Italy
and Ireland. This cooperation has directly resulted in the seizure
of 142.5 kilos of drugs and 53 arrests.
10.4. Cash detections
Since July 2007 HMRC's Financial National intelligence
Unit has regularly contributed intelligence from UK cash detections
to AWF Sus-Trans. This work file aims to establish links between
Member State money laundering investigations. However to date
no links have been established.
10.5. HMRC training
In March 2007 the HMRC secondee arranged for
our Cyclamen National Intelligence Unit to provide counter terrorism
and proliferation awareness training to Finland. The Finnish Board
of Customs is planning to set up a similar awareness programme
in their country, based on UK model principles.
11. THE FUTURE
11.1. HMRC welcome the new proposal for
a Decision under Articles 30 and 34 of the TEC. This will provides
a firmer legal basis for Europol than the current Convention as
the Decision will be binding on member states whereas the Convention
is not. As the opening section of the Explanatory Memorandum to
the original version of the Proposal stated:
"|Since its adoption in 1995, three different
Protocols have been adopted to amend the Europol Convention, respectively
in 2000, 2002 and 2003, which include provisions which will significantly
improve Europol's effectiveness. At the time of writing, none
of these instruments have entered into force yet, due to the fact
that not all Member States have ratified them. In addition discussions
on Europol's functioning have demonstrated that even after the
entry into force of the three Protocols, further improvements
to Europol's functioning are still desirable. This is partly due
to the emergence or increase of new security threats such as terrorism,
which pose new challenges to Europol and require novel approaches.
Moreover, improved sharing of information and implementation of
the principle of availability as supported in the Hague Programme,
make it necessary to further adapt Europol's legal framework while
maintaining an emphasis on robust data protection provisions.
A significant change which is proposed is that Europol should
be financed from the Community budget. This will put Europol on
an equal footing with Eurojust and CEPOL and increase the role
of the European Parliament in the control of Europol, thus enhancing
democratic oversight over Europol at European level. Application
of the EU Staff Regulations will also bring significant simplification.
This is in line with the resolution adopted by the European Parliament.
The current proposal aims at establishing Europol on the basis
of a Council Decision, including all the amendments already incorporated
in the three Protocols, as well as further improvements to address
the new challenges faced by Europol|"
11.2. Section 3 of the EM also states (legal
"The proposal aims to replace the Europol
Convention by a Council Decision. It incorporates the amendments
to the convention introduced by the three Protocols such as extension
of Europol's mandate and tasks to cover money laundering, assistance
in the field of crime prevention, technical and forensic police
methods, the possibility to participate in joint investigation
teams or request Member States to conduct or coordinate investigations
and greater information of the European Parliament|"
12.1. HMRC regard Europol as a valuable
partner in the development and support of law enforcement intelligence
and operations within Europe. We also support the proposal to
place Europol on a firmer legal footing which can only benefit
the work of Europol. We would be happy to provide further information
to the Committee, if needed.
Deputy Head of Criminal & Enforcement Policy
28 April 2008
1 A controlled delivery is an investigative technique
that allows specific consignments of illicit goods or controlled
substances to pass through the territory of one or more country.
The objective is to identify those persons involved in a transaction
and to facilitate the arrest of the principals behind the operation. Back