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10 May 2013. A visit of ECRIS Fingerprint Exchange Network (EFEN) project initiators – the representatives from the United Kingdom

The meeting of the partners participating in the European Criminal Records Information System (ECRIS) Fingerprint Exchange Network (EFEN) project, which was funded by the European Commission, was held at Information and Communications Department under the Ministry of Interior on May 8-9. The project is carried out by the Association of Chief Police Officers – ACPO (United Kingdom), and the Information and Communications Department under the Ministry of Interior is the partner in this project. In two-days meeting representatives from the Information on Conviction Administration Division of Information Technology and Communications Department, representatives of the Lithuanian Police Forensic Science Centre, the National Courts Administration and the representatives from Prosecutor General’s Office of the Republic of Lithuania and guests from ACPO attended.

During the meeting the project objectives were introduced: to share good practice while exchanging of information on convictions, which were passed in respect of physical persons, which have come into effect and were included in the national criminal record registers, to exchange additionally of person’s fingerprint information, to emphasize the importance of identification of the persons during the investigation and examination of criminal cases, using the information from the national state criminal registers. Also, EFEN project objectives and implementation measures and scope were presented. The project will be carried out in five directions: information collection during the visits to the European Union Member States and preparation of feasibility studies for the Member States and the European Commission on how to use fingerprints, development of the fingerprint database application in the United Kingdom considering the practices of the European Union Member States, cooperation with the judicial authorities of the European Union, emphasizing the importance of the use of fingerprints during the investigation and examination of criminal cases, as well as the preparation of guidelines for the experts of the Member States using the fingerprints of a person. As a separate direction the cooperation with the experts of Republic of Croatia was named representing the national register of convictions and also institutions serving the institutions that implement justice in order to discuss the importance of correct identification of persons in criminal proceedings. Particular attention is paid to this state because of the fact that Croatia will become the 28th member state of the European Union from 1 July 2013, thus it is desired to illustrate the processes happening in the freedom, security and justice area and foster the values formed by the European community. The fifth direction is a final stage of EFEN project, which provides the final conference of the project. During this stage, the progress of the project and the results achieved will be reviewed once again.

In addition to this, Council Framework Decision 2008/675/JHA of 24 July 2008 on taking account of convictions in the Member States of the European Union in the course of new criminal proceedings (hereinafter – the Framework Decision) was discussed. What is important is the paragraph 1 of Article 3 of the Framework Decision, which provides that the convictions of the other Member States shall be taken into account to the extent previous national convictions and that equivalent legal effects are attached to them as to previous national convictions, in accordance with national law. The example presented by the United Kingdom led to the conclusion that exchange of fingerprints is also important there, as having the notification on a committed criminal act in another Member State – foreign conviction, but in the absence of fingerprints such foreign conviction cannot have legal consequences equivalent to those that are attributed to previous national convictions under the national law.

The existence to the EFEN project was given by FEEU (Fingerprint Exchange between the European Union Countries) project, which was carried out in 2009-2012. At that time the United Kingdom has exchanged fingerprints with 12 Member States and even 2188 images of the fingerprints of persons were sent along with the reports about the criminal acts committed by the citizen of other Member States in the United Kingdom. 53% of this number was those that coincided with the fingerprints kept in other Member States, 25% of the fingerprints sent by the United Kingdom along with reports about the convicted persons belonged to other persons than those specified with outgoing reports. The said project has demonstrated the existing gaps in the legal and technical areas and has defined the boundaries of activity of current EFEN project.