European Union member states aren't trusting each other when it comes to sharing data, leaving police forces in the dark about international crime, the House of Lords European Union committee has found.
According to the committee, 80 percent of data handled by member states' Europol liaison officers isn't entered onto Europol's central databases and therefore isn't being made available to individual European police forces.
"The reason is a lack of trust: a reluctance on the part of member states, especially at the early stages of an investigation, to share sensitive information with all member states through the Europol channels," the report notes.
"We continue to doubt whether all member states have the necessary commitment to the exchange of information which is Europol’s core function," it added.
According to the report, Europol's dream of a "single computerised system with a narrow focus of operations" has been scuppered by the implementation of two separate systems — Europol Information System (EIS) and the Overall Analysis System for Intelligence and Support (Oasis) system — independently of each other.
The EIS — which should be a repository for information on serious crime — meanwhile, continues to attract little interest among national police forces. To date, only five European member states are automatically loading data onto the system.
In addition, the UK is unable to use the EIS due to compatibility issues and has to double key information.
Assistant chief constable Nick Gargan of Thames Valley Police told the committee: "In terms of the better use of the Europol Information System, I suppose a start would be to get properly connected to it, which we are not."
According to the Lords committee, it's a problem that needs urgent attention.
"Information capture is an important part of Europol’s functions, and the government should ensure that automatic data loading from Serious Organised Crime Agency to the Europol Information System is implemented as a matter of urgency," the report concluded.
A working connection to the EIS is expected in an upcoming IT refresh and is expected to be in place within the next two years.