Forces will be ordered to hand over documents on investigations or face fines
By IAN DRURY
PUBLISHED: 18:45 EST, 18 April 2013 | UPDATED: 01:33 EST, 19 April 2013
British police forces will be forced to hand sensitive details of criminal investigations to Brussels or risk a massive fine.
In a controversial move, the European Union’s crime intelligence agency would be allowed to demand access to private police files.
Europol could insist chief constables disclose evidence from criminal cases, witness statements, DNA samples, fingerprints and other data.
The UK would not be able to block a request – even if it harmed national security or jeopardised an ongoing investigation.
It raises the prospect of corrupt or incompetent police officers or officials in other countries allowing compromising information to fall into the hands of criminals.
The proposal would also put huge operational strain on forces as they would be ordered to divert resources from tackling crime to information-gathering for Brussels.
If the UK refused to comply, it could be hit with a £220million-a-year fine.
Concerned critics warned the move, which would cost £62million a year, was a step nearer a single European criminal justice system.
Tory MP Dominic Raab said: ‘This plan lays bare the federalist ambition of moving towards a single European criminal justice system, shorn of proper national democratic control.
‘If you don’t trust the Whitehall machine to look after your personal details, it will be a massive liability if it is sent to places that are rife with corruption and incompetence.’
The proposals were sneaked out by the European Commission in a 109-page document with the title European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Co-operation and Training.
They would expand the powers of Europol, the agency set up by the EU in 1999 to share intelligence, crime-fighting techniques and bolster cross-border police co-operation.
A Home Office spokesman said: ‘We will study the Commission’s proposal in detail and will consult Parliament before making a final decision on whether to opt in to it.’