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Criminal Intelligence in the EU

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Assessing EU criminal intelligence

Researchers examined the quality and effects of EU criminal intelligence. Europe is involved in the practice, but efforts are fragmented and uncooperative; such work may breach presumptions of innocence and is not recommended as trial evidence.

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Behind the practice of criminal intelligence is the assumption that the work helps law enforcement agencies discover and prevent crime. Nevertheless, not everyone is convinced; also, the practice must balance civil rights concerns. The EU-funded EUCRIMINTEL (Criminal intelligence in the EU) project addressed intelligence fragmentation in the EU, the role and quality of such work, and any conflicts with rights and democratic principles. The project ran for two years from October 2012. Partners determined that numerous European bodies are involved in intelligence, despite claims to the contrary. Yet, the agencies are fragmented and lack coherence, partly stemming from an unwillingness to cooperate. The project established a general theoretical framework, addressing prevention, the concept of intelligence cycle and reconciling intelligence with rights. The team concluded that intelligence collection and analysis can only breach the presumption of innocence to a limited extent, specifically when intelligence activities become a form of total monitoring. Researchers interviewed more than 10 relevant American and European stakeholders, under condition of anonymity, to document how intelligence is crafted and used. This stage confirmed the principle of proportionality, whereby excessive information gathering can hamper intelligence function. European strategic intelligence is apparently very good, yet the same was not demonstrated for operational intelligence. The project's interviews established that European intelligence is mainly used for strategic policymaking, and for criminal justice only in a very limited way. The study concluded that while intelligence offers valuable inspiration at the prosecution stage, such information should be banned from trials. EUCRIMINTEL allows stakeholders to restructure the shape of the intelligence community at national and EU levels. Secondly, the work assessed the quality of intelligence and clarified limits on its usage.


Criminal intelligence, presumptions of innocence, trial evidence, civil rights, information gathering

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