UK police to join Schengen European alert system

Use of the second generation Schengen Information System starts in October.

A European data system alerting UK police to missing persons and travelling criminals will go live in October.

The system is expected to have an impact on counter-terrorism, detention, major investigations and public protection, custody and serious and organised crime.

The College of Policing has issued Authorised Professional Practice - national police guidance - for forces on how to use the second generation Schengen Information System (SISII).

From October, police officers and UK law enforcement agencies will gain access to SISII, which allows member states to raise and respond to alerts in respect of persons, vehicles and objects. The system is used by police, border police, customs officers and law enforcement authorities.

The new Authorised Professional Practice explains the system and provides supporting knowledge around the process required for creating and responding to alerts.

Under the system it is possible to link alerts. In prescribed situations, users can also obtain photographs and fingerprints to confirm the identity of people.

The system is in operation in 24 EU member states and four non-EU countries: Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein.

In April, the College of Policing created three e-learning packages to raise awareness of SISII among all officers and staff, and to begin training those who will use it.

College of Policing practice developer Helen Hopwood said: "Authorised Professional Practice issued by the College will help forces to prepare for the arrival of the second generation system.

"Using the system will aid law enforcement officers by providing them with real-time information about wanted and missing persons, lost and stolen property. This system will enable the UK to exchange information more swiftly across Europe to fight and detect criminality."

Example of how a Schengen alert works

  1. A force in England or Wales has a warrant to arrest an individual and receive information that they have travelled to Germany.
  2. The force raises an Article 26 alert which is directed to the UK SIRENE Bureau for validation. The UK's SIRENE Bureau is held within the National Crime Agency. Each participating country has its own SIRENE Bureau for managing alerts.
  3. The UK SIRENE Bureau processes the alert, which is then communicated via the National Schengen Information System (N.SIS) to the Central Schengen Information System (C.SIS) in Strasbourg in real time, and then on to N.SIS in Germany.
  4. The alert is then processed by Germany's SIRENE Bureau for action by the appropriate force.

Officers can create the following alerts on SISII:

  • Article 26 - alerts for persons wanted for arrest for extradition purposes on the basis of a warrant
  • Article 32 - alerts for missing persons who need to be placed under police protection or in a place of safety, including minors and adults not at risk
  • Article 34 - alerts for witnesses or for absconders or subjects of criminal judgments to appear before the judicial authorities
  • Article 36 - alerts relating to people or vehicles requiring discreet checks
  • Article 38 - alerts relating to objects that are misappropriated, lost, stolen or evidence and are sought for the purposes of seizure.

This article appears in the June 2014 edition of our newsletter - why not subscribe?

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