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Heads of SIRENE National Bureaux Meet at Brdo pri Kranju

Organising a meeting of heads of SIRENE (Supplementary Information Request at National Entry) national bureaus is one of our obligations as part of our country's presidency of the EU Council. At the same time, it is also an opportunity to show our colleagues from the EU Member States and other countries that are users of the Schengen Information System how the Slovenian Police is organised and how it operates.

The meeting brought together heads of SIRENE national bureaus from all the EU Member States, Iceland, Norway and Switzerland, as well as representatives of the General Secretariat of the EU Council, European Commission and Permanent Representation of the Republic of Slovenia in Brussels.

The meeting, according to its chair Dušan Kerin, head of the International Police Cooperation Division in the Criminal Police Directorate, was dedicated particularly to exchanging experience and views, as well as to some key issues as regards SIS operation. Heads of SIRENE national units discussed the functioning of SIS in the Schengen countries, with a particular emphasis on the nine new members which joined the system on 1 September 2007. In addition to Slovenia, these members are the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Malta, Poland and Slovakia. Participants evaluated the operation of the system and discussed the difficulties encountered by all countries using the system.

As enhancing the effectiveness of the SIS is one of the priorities of the Slovenian Presidency, the participants also discussed the need for additional training for SIRENE operators, as, according to Mr Kerin, "These bureaus, being contact points in all Schengen countries, are the foundations of international police cooperation in the area of Schengen, enabling communication with the SIS and systematic police cooperation based on mutual exchange of data and alerts for persons and objects."

Sonja Božič, head of the Slovenian SIRENE bureau, pointed out that since 1 September of last year, when we started using it, the system had proved incredibly useful: "End-users in Slovenia (the Police and administrative bodies of the Ministry of the Interior) carried out more than 12 million checks, of which 5,700 resulted in hits, with alerts in the SIS matching the data on the person or object being processed."

Heads of SIRENE bureaus also discussed the second-generation Schengen Information System (SIS II), which is supposed to be set up in 2009 and which will, in addition to the established practices, introduce new functionalities such as linking alerts, attaching a European arrest warrant, biometric data and new categories of objects. In light of the planned setting-up of SIS II, the Member States pointed out that it was necessary to increase the number of staff at national Sirene bureaus as the SIS work load had already increased drastically.

Representatives of the Austrian Sirene bureau informed the Schengen countries of their intention to introduce border checks during the European football championship in Austria and Switzerland and asked for prompt exchange of information.

The basic purpose of SIS as a joint electronic database of alerts for persons and objects and one of the main compensatory measures in accordance with the Schengen Convention is to provide security in the area of the Schengen countries. To compensate for the security deficit caused by the lifting of border checks at internal borders, certain measures were introduced to be carried out both at internal borders and inland. Besides SIS, compensatory measures include police stations for compensatory measures, cross-border police cooperation, harmonisation of legislation in Member States, judicial cooperation in criminal matters, common visa policy and others.

Besides Dušan Kerin, head of the International Police Cooperation Division in the Criminal Police Directorate, Slovenia, as the EU presidency country, was represented by Sonja Božič, head of the Sirene section of the Criminal Police Directorate, Marko Bečan, Senior Criminal Police Inspector in the Criminal Police Directorate, and Igor Vučko, Assistant Director of the Information and Telecommunications Office.


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Date: 22.05.2008