Plans to close a loophole which hampers the sharing of criminal records between EU Member States have been unveiled.
Conservative Home Affairs spokesman Dan Dalton MEP is today presenting proposals for a new centralised database to improve the exchange of criminal record information on third country nationals within the EU.
Such information has a wide range of uses, from assisting prosecutions to allowing checks to be quickly carried out on people applying for jobs in sectors such as education, health and childcare.
The new system will be a crucial tool in tackling crime and terrorism.
The proposal fills a gap in the European Criminal Records Information System (ECRIS), which since 2012 has enabled Member States to quickly share previous convictions of EU nationals. However, using the system to check individuals from outside the EU is cumbersome and inefficient.
Mr Dalton said: "This relatively simple step will improve information sharing and pan-EU co-operation in the fight against crime.
"Easy access to an individual's previous convictions can be vital in a complex police inquiry. It is clearly worrying that while Member States share information on EU nationals, the current arrangements do not allow a similar exchange of details on third country nationals.
"We need to close this loophole as quickly as possible."
Mr Dalton's report limits access to the new database to those bodies already using the ECRIS system and includes clear data protection rules.
He said: "It is a priority of mine to ensure that the rights for access for individuals are clear and fair. Therefore I have looked to ensure that requests for correction and deletion are dealt with swiftly."
The report will be considered by the European Parliament's Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee.