The EU Pruem Decisions allow stored individuals' DNA profiles to be routinely searched against stored crime scene DNA profiles in every EU country. When there is a match the police in the relevant country will be informed and information about potential suspects can be exchanged.
The Pruem Treaty was originally adopted by a limited number of EU countries led by Germany. Since the integration of the Treaty into the EU legal framework in June 2008, DNA data exchange in police daily operations has been regulated by Council Decisions 2008/615/JHA and 2008/616/JHA. The technical and forensic requirements are described in Chapter 1 of the Annex to Decision 2008/616/JHA. However, technical standards are still being developed, partly because of the variety of different DNA profiling systems currently used within the EU.
Large numbers of false DNA matches are expected to occur by chance because of the limited overlap betwen the different profiling systems and because of the large number of comparisons that will be made. The largest number of false matches will occur between individuals' DNA profiles stored on the UK database and crime scene DNA profiles stored in other countries, especially in Germany.
Implementation of the Pruem Decisions in the UK was delayed because of this problem and because the UK DNA Database contained the DNA profiles of large numbers of innocent people arrested in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, in contravention of the 2008 judgment by the European Court of Human Rights in the Marper case. However, following implementation of the Protection of Freedoms Act, the UK DNA database now complies with this judgement.
The UK opted out of the Pruem Decisions in July 2013, along with some other EU justice measures. However, in 2015, the Government produced a business and implementation case for opting back in to the Pruem Decisions, following a small-scale pilot. A parliamentary debate on whether to opt back in is expected by end 2015.
- Press articles
- The Guardian: MPs to vote on joining European police DNA database (23rd November 2015)
- Expatica: Staff shortage threatens database exchange (13th October 2015)
- Wall Street Journal: Spain Threatens U.K.'s Inclusion in EU Justice Cooperation (9th October 2014)
- Daily Mail: Police in plea to share DNA clues with EU - because we have so many foreign criminals (12th July 2014)
- The Scotsman: EU set for 'more policing' powers (8th July 2014)
- The Guardian: David Cameron in talks with EU leaders over international DNA database (5th July 2014)
The Guardian: Britain to keep European arrest warrant but try to reform it (8th July 2013)
Reports that Britain will no longer support the DNA-sharing process known as the Pruem decision.
- BBC: DNA crime-fighting in UK 'lagging behind', experts say (8th February 2013)
- Daily Mail: EU demands access to details of all UK drivers: 'Orwellian' move to hand out personal information to foreign police forces (9th January 2013)
- EGov Monitor: Coalition plans to opt out of 130 EU measures as Euroscepticism rises (16th October 2012)
- New Scientist: DNA super-network increases risk of mix-ups (5th September 2011)
- External links
- Home Office: International DNA Exchange Policy for the United Kingdom (2nd October 2015)
Statistical study: Prum Feasibility Project (30th Sepember 2015)
Prepared September 2014
- Home Office: Pruem Business and Implementation Case (30th September 2015)
- Statewatch: "Network with errors": Europe's emerging web of DNA databases
- McCartney, Wilson & Williams (2011): Transnational Exchange of DNA: Acceptability, Viability and Legitimacy
- EU: Council of the European Union: Implementation of Council Decisions 2008/615/JHA and 2008/616/JHA- Implementation guide - DNA data exchange (12th July 2011)
- van der Beek, C.P. (2011) Forensic DNA Profiles Crossing Borders in Europe (Implementation of the Treaty of Pruem).
- StateWatch: Cross-border police cooperation (implementation of Pruem Decision)
COUNCIL FRAMEWORK DECISION 2009/905/JHA (30th November 2009)
on Accreditation of forensic service providers carrying out laboratory activities in the EU
Schneider PM (2009) Expansion of the European Standard Set of DNA Database Loci - the Current Situation
When massive exchanges of DNA profiles are undertaken following the implementation of the Treaty of Pruem, the seven European Standard Set (ESS) loci, required for a match to be reported under the Pruem Directive, will not be sufficient because the chance of adventitious matches will no longer be negligible. In addition, each DNA database contains a significant portion of partial profiles with an even higher probability to match randomly.
- Netherlands Forensic Institute: Exchange of DNA-profiles by the Treaty of Pruem (2008) 24th November 2008
- COUNCIL DECISION 2008/616/JHA (23rd June 2008)
- COUNCIL DECISION 2008/615/JHA (23rd June 2008)
Parliamentary statement by Baroness Scotland
The minister reports that the UK agreed to the EU Council decision on Pruem in June 2007 which will provide member states' law enforcement authorities with access to DNA and fingerprint data, on a hit or no hit basis, and direct access to vehicle registration.