Developing a comprehensive EU strategy to measure crime and criminal justice
The Commission is proposing a five-year action plan and is setting up an expert group to remedy the lack of statistics on crime and criminal justice at European Union level.
Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council and the European Economic and Social Committee of 7 August 2006 - Developing a comprehensive and coherent EU strategy to measure crime and criminal justice: an EU Action Plan 2006-2010 [COM(2006) 437 final - Not published in the Official Journal].
This Communication presents an action plan with a view to developing statistics at European Union (EU) level on crime and criminal justice for the period 2006-2010. It specifies the method to be applied in coordination with the Member States and the organisations concerned so that high-quality quantitative information is available to combat crime in the EU. The Commission has also decided to set up an expert group to ensure the implementation of the action plan and to identify the needs for information on crime and criminal justice.
Statistics for the benefit of the EU
The production of Community statistics is governed by rules set out in the Regulation on Community Statistics. Actions on the establishment of these statistics are carried out according to the Community Statistical Programme and its annual programmes, respecting the principles set out in the European Statistics Code of Practice. Consequently, crime and criminal justice statistics have been included in the annual work programme since 2005 and Eurostat has held regular consultations within the structure of the European Statistical System (ESS). This new statistical system will meet the following needs:
- establishment of reliable statistics on the trends, the levels and the structure of crime and terrorism and the measures taken to prevent and fight these problems in the Member States, the EU and the rest of the world;
- harmonisation of the definitions and data-collection procedures: national statistics are compiled according to criteria and procedures which may differ from country to country. There is agreement among all the key actors to define a common framework for producing comparable statistics at EU level that is based on harmonised definitions and collection procedures.
The objective is to develop statistics that will allow comparisons regarding the structure, levels and trends of crime as well as the various criminal justice measures between Member States and regions within Member States. In the near future, available national data will be collected and assessed for quality in order to form the first Community statistics on crime and criminal justice.
The role of the experts
The establishment of an expert group to assist the Commission would help to identify the needs for data on crime and criminal justice (Commission Decision 2006/581/EC). In addition, it would optimise the pooling of resources by avoiding the duplication of work carried out by either the Commission or other bodies on organised and volume crime.
Mainstreaming statistical information within the EU
Statistical comparisons at EU level can be achieved only if Member States collect data in a harmonised way. This harmonisation, which requires extensive resources, often proves to be complicated. It is a medium-term goal which can be achieved only through close association of the Member States and the European Commission on the basis of an assessment of the urgency for information or binding legal acts.
The adoption of a framework decision, directive or regulation which would announce common measures to prevent and fight crime through a common definition or agreement would facilitate this acquisition of knowledge. Quantitative information on the structure, level and trends of the problem that the instrument addresses are essential for effective implementation of a policy and its subsequent evaluation.
For each legal instrument designed to prevent or fight crime that is drafted, the Commission, as a mainstreaming initiative, will introduce a requirement to provide appropriate statistics in accordance with the European Statistical System.
Action plan 2006-2010
The Commission has introduced an action plan for the period 2006-2010 to prepare a comprehensive European strategy to measure crime and criminal justice, which defines six objectives:
- comprehensive coordination at EU level;
- coordination at international level;
- stocktaking and development of knowledge;
- identification of policy needs and development of general tools;
- development of specific indicators;
- dissemination measures.
Implementation and monitoring of the action plan
This action plan will be updated as the preliminary work progresses and the activities identified will be included in the relevant Commission work programmes, the Community Statistical Programme and the annual work programmes. The action plan will also need to be extended, from a practical or financial point of view, when new instruments relating to crime and criminal justice are adopted.
The Commission will prepare a mid-term review in 2008 and inform the relevant Council working groups on progress. At the end of 2010, the Commission will prepare a report to the European Parliament and the Council on the results of the implementation of the action plan and outline proposals for future work in the area in the context of examining the need for a legal instrument on EU statistics on crime and criminal justice.
Following the conclusions of the Millennium Strategy on organised crime, the Dublin Declaration recommended the development of precise, coordinated statistics on crime in the EU in order to assess the risks and trends in organised crime. The Hague Programme welcomed the initiative of the Commission to establish appropriate EU instruments for measuring terrorism and organised crime.
For further information, please refer to the Internet site of the European Commission, Directorate-General for Justice, Freedom and Security.