Blockchain and law enforcement

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by Lumai Mubanga

Blockchain will revolutionize how law enforcement agencies manage data

Law enforcement is another sector were block chain is yet to find adoption and full implementation. As a security wing in most countries, law enforcement relies heavily on the exchange of information between countries and states. Such information exchange ensures that perpetrators of the law are given fair trial wherever they may break the law.

Current Loopholes

The United States for example has long witnessed mass shootings were thousands of lives have been lost. Among the reasons advanced are that states and federal agencies have no access to centralized crime databases that could provide information about criminal elements. While certain bad elements have been banned from obtaining certain classes of weapons, such information may not be available to local weapon dealers or state agencies. This break in the availability of information has been a loop whole which criminal elements take advantage of. They manage to buy the very weapons they are banned from using and cause mayhem to innocent citizens.

The European Union also face challenges in prosecuting offender from different countries due to lack of information exchange from centralized crime databases across borders. Could blockchain finally be the key to those challenges?

For example in the EU, the European Criminal Records Information System (ECRIS) was established in April 2012. Its main focus was to improve the exchange of information on criminal records throughout the EU. All EU countries are connected to ECRIS as reported on the Europa website. According to the same website, “the systems (ECRIS) allows the authorities to obtain information on EU nationals. However, one challenge has been finding information on previous convictions of non-EU nationals. To obtain this information, the respective EU countries have to be contacted one by one”, end of quote. Imagine how difficult it is to provide timely information to all judges and prosecutor to comprehensive information on criminal history. It is indeed difficult to remove any possibility of an offender to escape the consequences of their actions.

The financial, emotional costs of these loopholes in the law enforcement systems have been astronomical. Millions of lives have been lost because criminal elements find it easy to perpetuate their activities. The judges on the other hand have no clear records on certain elements to give a fair sentence, especially for cross border crimes.

The Role of Blockchain in Law enforcement

The advantage of blockchain is that it provides an immutable database accessible anywhere in the world. Current criminal databases are only decentralized per location such as per state in the European Union. In the US, these too are decentralized. The results reveal challenges in the tracking of lawbreakers difficult.

With a central database kept on the blockchain, and made available to all agencies and stakeholder across all borders, blockchain will not only disrupt how criminal records are kept and managed, but it could prevent in the future, through the smart and judicious use of smart contracts and blockchain, the loss of so many innocent lives and bring about a new way of handling cross border crimes with efficiency and better fair court systems.

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