Swiss police to obtain key information more quickly

Bern, 05.03.2021 - Crime often crosses national borders, which is why international cooperation is key to combating it. The Prüm Convention and Eurodac Protocol will strengthen international police cooperation by making the exchange of information between Swiss prosecution authorities and those of EU member states faster and more efficient. In its meeting on 5 March, the Federal Council adopted a dispatch on this issue.

Nowadays, terrorists, criminal organisations and transnational gangs are networked and mobile. For example, DNA samples from the Switzerland-wide coordinated investigations into ATM explosions in several cantons led to arrests in Austria and Denmark. To combat such cross-border crime more effectively, closer international cooperation is needed. The Federal Council seeks to promote such cooperation through the Prüm Convention and has submitted a dispatch to this effect to Parliament.

Police to obtain key information more swiftly

Information that is vital to police work, such as DNA profiles, fingerprints and vehicle registration data, is stored in national information systems. Currently, if Swiss investigating authorities find DNA traces at a crime scene, they are initially checked against the national DNA database. If there are no matches, the DNA samples can be checked against other countries' databases. This process is complicated and time-consuming as the request has to be sent to all countries individually via Interpol. The Prüm Convention means that a single request will in future trigger an automated search in the databases of all participating EU countries. If a DNA sample throws up a match in another country's database, the Swiss prosecution authorities will receive a notification directly and can request further information from the country in question.

The Prüm Convention therefore makes international requests simpler, faster and more efficient for Swiss law enforcement services. This will speed up investigations and allow links between offences in Switzerland and abroad to be established more quickly. Serial offences and the modus operandi of criminal organisations can also be detected and uncovered more rapidly. The Convention is an important instrument in combating organised and transnational crime and terrorism and will help make Switzerland safer.

The Prüm Convention is not an extension of the Schengen Agreement and Switzerland's participation is therefore voluntary. However, virtually all European countries already exchange DNA profiles, fingerprints and vehicle registration data via Prüm. If Switzerland were to stand on the sidelines in this area, this would likely have a negative impact on the future exchange of police information with EU member states.

Eurodac Protocol and PCSC Agreement to enter into force

Implementation of the Prüm Convention is a prerequisite for the Eurodac Protocol to enter into force. Under the Protocol, law enforcement services can access the Eurodac database, which contains the fingerprints of persons who have applied for asylum in a Dublin member state and those caught attempting to enter the Dublin area illegally. Access to this database is only permitted for the prevention and detection of serious crimes and in cases where there is suspected terrorist involvement.

Alongside the technical implementation of Prüm cooperation, the Preventing and Combating Serious Crime (PCSC) Agreement, concluded with the United States, is to enter into force. This agreement, which was approved by the Federal Council back in 2012, pursues the same goals as the Prüm Convention but is limited to the exchange of DNA profiles and fingerprints.

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