EU: Beefing up police databases: plans for increased input, data quality roadmap, automation


The German Presidency of the EU has made a 'European Police Partnership' one of its policy priorities. Part of this involves trying to ensure that member states insert as much data as possible into the Schengen Information System (SIS) and the Europol Information System (EIS). The Presidency has developed a "roadmap" for ensuring data quality in the EU's policing and migration databases, which includes common standards for biometric data and "mobile devices" for law enforcement officials. Work is underway to increase the use of automation by national units dealing with SIS data, and the Presidency is aiming to coordinate "change management" at the national level for the implementation of new rules on the SIS.

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NOTE from: Presidency to: Working Party on JHA Information Exchange (IXIM) / Mixed Committee: European Data Quality Day - Summary of replies (11825/20, LIMITE, 11 November 2020, pdf)

The document includes summaries of responses to a questionnaire previously circulated by the Presidency. The responses show, amongst other things, that as of March this year the majority of data held in the Europol Information System came from non-EU states.

Meanwhile, amongst EU member states, Germany remained by the far the biggest contributor to the EIS. The UK is the fifth-largest contributor; barring some form of Brexit agreement between the UK and EU that would allow that data to remain in the EIS, it will have to be deleted by 1 January 2021.

NOTE from: Presidency to: Working Party on JHA Information Exchange (IXIM) / Mixed Committee: Roadmap for standardisation for data quality purposes (11824/20, LIMITE, 11 November 2020, pdf)

The document may not sound exciting but it contains crucial information on the coming expansion of policing and border agencies' access to personal data via the 'interoperability' initiative, including through the provision of mobile devices for 'frontline' law enforcement officials. It also hints at the future expansion of biometric data collection.

"Development and implementation of the interoperability architecture, as outlined in the Interoperability Regulations, will substantially reduce the currently existing information gaps and will consolidate and streamline access to information available in the already existing and the new information systems for border management and internal security. However, two preconditions must be fulfilled in order to achieve maximum effect from the interoperability architecture, once it is deployed. First, the data entered in the systems needs to be of very high quality. Second, end-users should have timely, secure and comprehensive access to information derived from the data stored in the systems.

Therefore, to maximise the operational benefits of the new information architecture for the Member States in parallel with its deployment, an essential element is the development, endorsement and implementation of common standards (where relevant) in key areas.

...the need for a Roadmap with a comprehensive set of actions has been agreed. The purpose of the Roadmap is to address gaps pertaining to data quality and access to information by way of the development, endorsement and implementation of common standards in the following areas: quality of biometric data; quality of alphanumeric data; devices for the acquisition of raw biometric data; mobile devices and solutions for access to the information available through the new interoperability architecture; and cyber security."


"The future will bring a wider range of biometric modalities in the areas of border control migration and security. Palm prints are already part of the SIS II recast, while other modalities, such as iris, are likely to become part of the technology landscape in the JHA domain along with significant improvements in technologies or the acceptability criteria. Factors such as touchless and less intrusive technologies will play an important role in the future. These developments need to be considered by Member States and EU Agencies in context of the evolution of relevant EU legislation and systems."

NOTE from: Presidency to: Working Party on JHA Information Exchange (IXIM) / Mixed Committee: Automation in the context of the SIS recast (11828/20, LIMITE, 5 November 2020, pdf)

"The number of alerts and hits in the SIS has increased drastically over the last couple of years. For instance, over the last five years the number of alerts on persons in the SIS grew from 797 244 in January 2015 to 983 278 in January 2020. Over the same period, the number of alerts on objects went from 55 million in January 2015 to 90 million in January 2020. These numbers illustrate the increased volume the SIRENE Bureaux have to handle.

...Automation can play an essential role here, especially since the SIRENE Bureaux work with standard forms stipulated in the SIRENE manual, which are an ideal foundation for the automation of processes."

NOTE from: Presidency to: Working Party on JHA Information Exchange (IXIM) / Mixed Committee: SIS recast implementation: competent authorities' access and change management (11826/20, LIMITE, 10 November 2020, pdf):

"The Presidency has... created a toolbox comprising the different change management measures and instruments cited by the Member States, in to order to allow all SIRENE Bureaux to make use of them as part of their respective SIS implementation, in accordance with applicable legislation."

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