The Home Office has welcomed the publication of a detailed UK-led report examining what more can be done at an EU level to address the ongoing threat posed by serious offenders travelling across Europe.
The SOMEC (Serious Offending by Mobile European Criminals) Project report, produced by a group of academics at De Montfort University, makes a series of detailed recommendations designed to enable countries to successfully track high risk criminals who are moving across the continent.
The comprehensive document calls on countries to work together to make sure that the right information is being shared in order to prevent serious and violent criminals from travelling across Europe and orchestrating further acts of criminality.
The report includes a number of recommendations, among them calls for the European Criminal Record Information System (ECRIS) to be used more effectively by EU Member States in order to identify offenders on whom information should be exchanged.
It also recommends that joint training on information exchange should be pursued nationally across judicial, law enforcement and offender management agencies so as to improve the process at a domestic level.
The UK, which has been at the forefront of this work, already has numerous measures in place to protect the public from dangerous offenders, and will now press for further action by all Member States and, indeed, the European Commission.
Exchange and retention of information
James Brokenshire, the Minister for Immigration at the Home Office, commented: “The UK is leading the way in Europe on improving the exchange and retention of information in cases involving dangerous criminals. Home Office ministers have consistently urged other EU states to do more in this area in order to keep members of the public safe. We welcome the publication of this report, and will most certainly use its content to continue making the case for greater action with our European partners.”
The SOMEC Project is backed by Beatrice Jones, the mother of Moira Jones who was murdered in Glasgow by Marek Harcar back in 2008. Harcar is a Slovakian national with 13 previous convictions for violence and theft.
Since the tragic death of her daughter, Jones has been campaigning for more to be done to prevent criminals from travelling between countries.
“When Moira was murdered, it was said by many that she was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” explained Jones. “This wasn’t the case. Moira was not in the wrong place. She was on the street where she lived. Her killer was in the wrong place. He should never have been in our country at all.”
Jones added: “The SOMEC Project has come too late for Moira and for us, and too late to prevent the murders of several others, but if its content is taken on board by all of the EU’s Member States then it will surely help safeguard the lives of beloved daughters and sons across Europe in the future.”
The SOMEC Project
The SOMEC Project was funded by the European Commission across a two-year period and led by the UK alongside Latvia, the Netherlands and Catalonia.
Launched in January 2013, The SOMEC Project collected information through a combination of structured interviews with law enforcement staff, offender management personnel and experts on the main EU-wide information exchange systems as well as via Case Studies (to illustrate current practice) and a series of Workshops.
*The report materials can be found on the De Montfort University website