FECL 04 (March 1992):


In a fairly lengthy article in "Police review", Roger Berch, chairman of the International Committee of the Association of Chief Police Officers, argues that until European police forces make bigger steps towards harmonising information systems, they must continue to rely on Interpol.

Birch writes: "It is our concern, shared ba many European colleagues, that many good-class criminals will be encouraged to expand their activities across internal boundaries in the belief that the next January will produce a sudden relaxation in police and Custom's activity."

After discussing Schengen in general terms, he continues: "The foundation stones of a new building have been laid in Strasbourg, but how far has Schengen gone beyond being a police strategy? Apart from its limited membership, it is also limited in the information it can handle. Data protection laws prevent the sort of intelligence data likely to be usefull in tracing drug dealers, money launderers and the like. Many colleagues in Europe have grave doubts that the hardware and software will be available by the planned target date whenever one is agreed upon."

He discusses TREVI and the European Information System, but remarks that "it will handle much the same information as the SIS and be restricted by the same limitations on membership and data protection."

"Until we are much further down the road to harmony, the best way forward is to improve co-operation among existing agencies rather than create large new super-agencies with ill-defined powers." He goes on to commend Interpol, and says that many criticisms of the organisation are ill-founded, though he concedes that "there is political suspicion about its lack of accountability."

He concludes: "The policing of Europe cannot wait for the total harmonisation of legislation or for the resolution of such thorny issues as data protection. The police forces of Europe need to take fuller advantage of what Interpol has to offer - sooner rather than later.

Jolyon Jenkins


Source: Police Review (UK), 17.2.1992