The UK is to gain access to the EU’s massive border control database under a new agreement signed in Brussels on Tuesday.
According to the Home Office, “more foreign terrorists, murderers and paedophiles will be kept out of the country” thanks to the deal agreed at the General Affairs Council, a meeting of interior ministers from across the EU.
The Schengen Information System (SIS II) database is a record of “persons of interest” including wanted criminals, suspected terrorists, missing people and third-country nationals who are not entitled to enter or stay in the Schengen Area, and “persons sought to assist with a judicial procedure” (in other words, witnesses).
Despite refusing to sign up to the Schengen Area – an area of free movement within the EU which is not subject to passport controls, so named after the Schengen Agreement which created it – the UK wants access to the EU's Schengen database of more than 250,000 alerts for criminals and missing people.
The database includes information on 37,000 European Arrest Warrants and 60,000 missing children and vulnerable adults. Warnings from other countries will automatically appear on Blighty's Police National Computer and on border watch lists.
Immigration and Security Minister James Brokenshire said: “The system will give us access to alerts that could help prevent terror attacks, trace vulnerable people, bring offenders back to the UK to face justice, and stop dangerous foreign criminals before they reach our shores.”
The database also includes 40 million alerts on identity documents, three million on vehicles, and eight million on other lost or stolen items.
The UK will officially join the system on 13 April. ®