South West MEP Ashley Fox has welcomed new plans to allow the collection and sharing of flight passenger data in order to detect terrorist and serious criminal activity.

The plan finally took off after five years of negotiations led by Conservatives in the European Parliament. The Passenger Name Records (PNR) directive allows for the transfer of basic passenger information given at the time of booking a flight in the EU to identify patterns of suspect behaviour.

Passenger Name Records are used already in the USA and UK to detect terrorist activity, drug and people trafficking. The data collected has proven valuable to highly-trained analysts. The new law means data from all 28 EU countries can be shared. This will assist in the detection of radicalised 'foreign fighters' returning from Syria.

Mr Fox said: "We have adopted an important new tool for fighting terrorists and traffickers. By collecting, sharing and analysing PNR information our intelligence agencies can detect patterns of suspicious behaviour to be followed up. PNR is not a silver bullet, but countries like the UK, that already have a national PNR system have shown time and again that it is highly effective.

"There were understandable concerns about the collection and storage of peoples’ data, but we have introduced sensible safeguards and passed a law proportionate to the risks we face.

"European governments must now get on with implementing this agreement. We cannot afford to waste any more time in developing a robust response to the terrorist threat."

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