Serious Violent or Sexual Offenders Travelling Across EU Borders. Ideological and Ethical Challenges of Information Exchange.




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Peer reviewed



The increase in travel opportunities coupled with open borders across much of the European Union has resulted in increased capacity for serious violent or sexual offenders to travel or migrate to other Member States within the EU. In some instances this results in (ex)offenders living and working in Member States with less monitoring, regulation or supervision than they would experience in their home Member State; and in some cases without any tracking or information exchange about their known criminality. In 2013 an EU funded project reviewed current information exchange systems within the EU, and the challenges and issues faced by law enforcement and probation service personnel when seeking to work collaboratively with other EU Member States to manage the risk posed by this small number of high risk offenders. This article reviews the key issues from that research, and most notably the differences in perceptions of privacy, data protection restrictions on information exchange, rights to free movement post sentence, and a range of legal and ethical constraints upon the choices and actions of law enforcement and probation personnel. Underlying ideological and philosophical differences, particularly across Probation practice, can be discerned focused on the relative weight that risk, desistance or rehabilitation should play in response to these offenders. This article examines the implications of these differences for the effective management of serious violent or sexual offenders who are mobile across the EU community.


SOMEC is a two-year project running from January 2013 to January 2015 investigating current processes for information exchange and procedures to manage the harm posed by serious violent or sexual offenders travelling across the European Union. SOMEC is co-funded by the European Commission Directorate-General for Home Affairs - HOME/2011/AG/4000002521 30-CE-0519712/00-87. SOMEC Partners, Beneficiary Partners: National Offender Management Service (UK), The Home Office (UK) Association of Chief Police Officers (UK), ACPO Criminal Records Office (UK), National Crime Agency (UK), London Probation Trust (UK), De Montfort University (UK), CEP- Confederation of European Probation (EU), Department of Justice (Prison and Probation) Catalonia (ES), Dutch Ministry of Security and Justice (NL), Latvian State Probation Service (LV), Latvian State Police (LV). Associate Partners: The Ministry of Interior, Macedonia (MA), Probation Chiefs Association (UK), The Scottish Government (UK), The Police Service Northern Ireland (UK), Probation Board for Northern Ireland (UK), Europol (EU), Eurojust (EU). The full field work report and other project outputs are available at:


Risk assessment, rehabilitation, public protection, agency, desistance, non-offending identity


Hilder, S. and Kemshall, H. (2016) Serious Violent or Sexual Offenders Travelling Across EU Borders. Ideological and Ethical Challenges of Information Exchange. European Journal of Probation, forthcoming


Research Institute