European Commission
Commission publishes Communication on EU Strategy to tackle Organised Crime 2021-2025

The Commission published a Communication on the EU Strategy to tackle organised crime this week, largely based on intelligence from Europol’s 4-yearly assessment of serious and organised crime threats. The strategy lays out the tools and mechanisms to boost judicial and legal cooperation between Member States in the fight against organised crime in Europe. Firstly, to enhance judicial and legal cooperation, the Commission will expand funding of the European multidisciplinary platform against criminal threats (EMPACT), which brings together EU and national authorities to pinpoint key criminal threats. The Commission will also upgrade the “Prüm” framework for DNA, fingerprint and other data exchanges, and propose an EU Police Cooperation Code to reduce fragmentation in this regard, and push for the 2023 objective of making data systems more interoperable. Along with this, the Commission also issued a proposal to negotiate a cooperation agreement with Interpol.

Neutralising criminal financing is also prioritised, with plans to revise EU rules on confiscating criminal profits, anti-money laundering, and anti-corruption, in large part because more than 80% of criminal networks use legal businesses as fronts for their activities. The Commission also hopes to use digitalisation to strengthen criminal investigations, including finding ways to address legitimate data retention and access encrypted data lawfully when law enforcement requires it. Announcing the strategy, Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson stated that “With the measures we’re proposing today, we’ll be moving from occasional police cooperation to permanent police partnerships, and we’ll follow the money to catch criminals in financial investigations.” (link)

Commission unveils approach to combatting human trafficking

The Organised Crime Strategy released this week was also accompanied by a Strategy dedicated to combatting trafficking in human beings. This centres on three themes – prevention, protection and prosecution. In particular the Commission wants to ensure effective implementation of the  Anti-trafficking Directive, using dedicated funding with a strong focus on protecting, supporting and empowering trafficking victims, and on gender-specific and child-sensitive aspects of trafficking. To accomplish this the Commission is launching a study on the evaluation of the Anti-trafficking Directive in view of a potential revision based on the results. It will consider revising the Employers’ Sanctions Directive, and also propose new legislation on corporate governance and new guidance on due diligence to prevent forced labour. As with the Organised Crime Strategy, the Commission wants to use digital tools to combat trafficking, and hence will conduct consultations with internet and technology companies to reduce the role online platforms play in enabling trafficking, and strengthen their role in fighting it.

 

·       Denmark: A Danish study involving 41 police officers from the Copenhagen Police has found that wearing ballistic vests strains the body, impacting the lumbar spine specifically. (link)

·       Iceland: Due to a shortening of the working week for public employees in Iceland, which goes into effect on 1 May, about 75 new police officers will need to be hired throughout the country, according to figures from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. (link)

·       Netherlands: The Dutch Public Prosecution Service has accused the UK of “damaging confidence” in EU law enforcement agencies by disclosing information about a joint police operation to infiltrate the EncroChat encrypted phone application. (link)

·       Switzerland: Swiss police had to use tear gas on a group of anti-lockdown protestors in the town of Altdorf on Saturday 10th April, after widespread calls for protest on social media. The protest followed earlier riots that had taken place on Good Friday in the city of St. Gallen. (link)

·       UK: Chief Superintendent Paul Griffiths, president of the Police Superintendents’ Association, told The Independent UK police will be unable to tackle all breaches of COVID rules after surges in crime towards pre-pandemic levels. (link)

·       UK: More than 5,500 UK police officers will be on duty for the G7 summit in Cornwall, it has been confirmed. The summit is to take place from 11-13 June in Carbis Bay, near St Ives. (link)

Other news
Police Officers to be represented at the International Labour Conference for the first time

For the first time in the 101-year history of the International Labour Conference (ILO), police officers will be represented in their own right. Calum Steele, President of EuroCOP and General Secretary of both the Scottish Police Federation (SPF) and the International Council of Police Representative Associations (ICPRA), said in a statement that the significance of this “really cannot be understated”. Police officers will be represented by ICPRA, which received confirmation that the ILO had accepted its application to participate. The ICPRA represents more than 1.5 million members across four continents speaking over 30 languages. UK and Ireland member organisations include the SPF, Police Federation of England and Wales, Police Federation for Northern Ireland (PFNI), British Transport Police Federation, Garda Representative Association and Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors. (link)

French parliament passes security law criminalising dissemination of images of police officers

French MPs have given the green light to a “global security” law, which includes Article 24 – a provision that will make it a criminal offence to share malicious images which identify police officers by name or by face. The bill was approved by 75 votes for and 33 against in the National Assembly, with the Senate having already adopted the bill. Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin stated the law will protect French police from violence enabled by online platforms, and police unions in France have supported the legislative changes. But the provisions have been sharply criticised by human rights and media campaigners, who argue that Article 24 in particular will restrict civil liberties and media freedoms, and lead to lower police accountability. The changes had prompted earlier nationwide protests in November against the original content of the bill, which has since been heavily revised. A key portion of the legal text now states that disseminating images of on-duty police officers “with the obvious intent of harming” will be punished by up to 5 years in prison and a 75,000 Euro fine. (link)

Look Ahead

 

Look Ahead

–          19 April: LIBE Committee of the European Parliament meets to discuss a report on the Activities of the Frontex Scrutiny Working Group, and prevention of terrorist content dissemination online. The agenda can be found here.

–          20 April: The Portuguese presidency is organising an event entitled “Protection from racial discrimination and related intolerance.” More information here.

–          21 April: International Fraud Prevention Conference (IFPC2021) with the participation of Commissioner Margaritis Schinas.

–          21 April: Meeting of the Council Working Party on Cooperation in Criminal Matters.

–          22 April: Commissioner Ylva Johansson meets with Mr Marko Gasperlin, Chairman of the Frontex Management Board.

–          22 April: Videoconference on the New Pact on Asylum and Migration organised by King’s College London and the British Institute of International and comparative law. Commissioner Margaritis Schinas will be participating.

 

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.