Schengen Information System II (“SIS II”)
As a non-Schengen member state, the UK retains control over its own borders. Until recently this meant that the UK did not have access to the second-generation information sharing system “SIS II”.
SIS II is designed to collect and exchange information relating to immigration, policing and criminal law. This includes real time alerts issued for missing persons and property. Police stations and consulates across the system can access a shared database extending far beyond the UK Police National Computer. The new system can store biometric data to be used in unilateral searches. The major development for extradition is that SIS II allows EAWs to be shared electronically in real time.
Judges, Ministers and commentators agree that access to SIS II data is likely to lead to a sharp increase in extradition requests to the UK. SIS II is set to become the principal way in which the UK transmits and receives EAWs. According to Immigration Minister, James Brokenshire, SIS II:
"… 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.
There is widespread concern that the increase in EAW cases may become unmanageable. The new speedy system might fetter or even sacrifice pre-certification scrutiny of EAWs. It is not known whether or not the NCA have allocated any additional resources to cater for an increase in cases.
A tangible benefit to individuals could be the capacity to “flag” EAWs which have been refused in one jurisdiction, in order to reduce the risk of a person being arrested due to the same EAW in another jurisdiction. Although any such system would only work by one state would automatically following another state’s decision to discharge.
SIS II is one of the relative few measures subject to this Government’s 2014 / 2015 “Opt Out” / “Opt In” hokey-kokey. It remains relatively opaque despite being around, in draft form at least, since 2007.
Although the UK technically accedes to SIS II on 13 April 2015, much of the practical integration has already begun. Final accession will depend upon the results of an evaluation visit by the Council of the EU due on October 2015 and a subsequent report.