The Problem

As Frontier Checks are relaxed within the European Union...

... a European police officer faced with investigating a fraud, a vehicle theft, a missing or wanted person or responding to a cross-border incident in progress must be supported on a European scale. Many operations already require that certain officers be equipped to communicate across borders with as much confidence as they currently enjoy within national boundaries. Such contacts typically involve a foreign language and another force, administration or in certain cases a company with an unfamiliar structure, different working practices, and operating under different legal constraints. Although there are organisations such as Interpol which can assist, they are not generally set up to handle queries in "real time". Rapid and easy-to-use communications, possibly involving the instantaneous transmission of enquiries to multiple administrations and in many languages, are crucial to the conduct of many operations, since most national jurisdictions impose time constraints on the conduct of enquiries, especially where persons are retained in custody. The lifting of internal border controls across Europe has increased the need to find a solution to this problem because cross-border and inter-regional police communication has a much larger role to play than it did before these frontiers were relaxed. There is evidence that criminals are increasingly exploiting the situation to commit crimes and avoid penalties within the Community and across its external frontiers.

On the brighter side, the relaxation of frontiers means that we can now envisage opportunities for more cross-border collaboration between the emergency services. Europe's fire and medical response units are, however, impeded in their ability to work together by the same administrative and communications difficulties which afflict the police. The only exceptions are isolated installations such as the Channel Tunnel between England and France where special bilateral provisions have been carefully planned.