As reported in the Daily Telegraph this morning, the Government only has until the end of the month to decide whether to opt-in to the new European Investigation Order (EIO).
The EIO is an amendment of sorts to the 'European Evidence Warrant’ (EEW) established in December 2008, which provided for the transfer of certain but restricted amounts of data between EU member states in the event of an arrest.
The EIO changes this considerably to include immediate access to criminal records as well as almost every conceivable investigative measure. As the Telegraph explains:
Under the terms of the order, any prosecutor or police officer in all 27 members of the EU could be given the power to issue demands for evidence, regardless of the cost involved.
Judges in this country would be powerless to block the requests, even if they related to offences that are considered trivial in this country.
Overstretched police resources could then be expended on demands to launch lengthy surveillance operations, take DNA samples or secure documents such as bank statements or phone records.
There also appear to be very few conditions to refuse an EIO, as the Directive effectively scraps the main grounds that have been available to refuse a request for mutual assistance or the execution of a European evidence warrant.
There are any number of concerns that arise from the EIO. From wasting police time to British police being compelled to take biometric data or place people under surveillance on the urging of countries for whom the rule of law is a relatively recent innovation.
The article ends with a meaningless quote from an unnamed Home Office official, which suggests that the Government may not be giving this looming deadline the proper consideration.
By Dylan Sharpe