Pruem Decisions

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.


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