Saturday 24 January 2009

A Single Point of Contact for Comparable Statistics on Crime: Council discussions

I like to see Council documents that give an idea about discussions behind the scenes.

Today I found a document (published now, but issued in November) for the "Multidisciplinary Group on Organised Crime" in which discussions for setting up a "Single Point of Contact for Comparable Statistics on Crime" are summarised, indicating also the positions of member states.

Background is the following assessment:
[O]ne of the obstacles to producing comparable crime statistics at EU level was the absence, in many cases, of a single point of contact in the Member States, capable of meeting the various requests with a view to providing the necessary statistical data, regardless of whether those requests came from the Commission, Eurostat, Europol, Eurojust, or other international organisations. In many cases, that meant delays in dealing with questionnaires and requests, duplication and difficulties in collating data dispersed over different ministries and administrations. In other cases, points of contact did exist, but there were just as many ministries affected by this horizontal problem (Ministry of the Interior, Justice, etc.).
So now the question is whether member states want to set up one supranational contact point that would unite European statistics on crime.

Most of the countries, contrary to the statement above, seem to have respect national contact points, and they are now discussion about the pros and cons of setting up a European structure. 14 countries, at the time, had answered a short questionnaire:

We learn for example that Germany is the only country that is against the proposal, apparently because of its internal federal structure. Belgium and Latvia have some hesitations, inter alia because they see difficulties in actually producing comparable statistics. Nevertheless, most countries having replied see room for better co-ordination and thereby more efficient information flows and economy of resources through such a unified contact point.

Altogether, discussions seem to be very premature, but we get at least an idea on what level and with which arguments member states are discussing. At the end of the document, we also get a list of some national contact points for crime statistics, which might also be useful for some.