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Joint Investigation Teams

|Legal Guidance

Introduction

A joint investigation team (JIT) is a team consisting of prosecutors and law enforcement authorities which is:

  • established by written agreement between the countries involved;
  • for a fixed period (usually 6-12 months with the power to extend by consent); and
  • for the purpose of carrying out specific criminal investigations in one or more of the participating countries.

JITs enable the direct gathering and exchange of information and evidence. Information and evidence collected in accordance with the legislation of the participating country in which it was obtained, can be shared on the basis of the JIT agreement without the need to use formal mutual legal assistance (MLA) tools (see guidance on International Enquiries).

Members of the team from a participating country other than the one in which the investigative measure is taking place are entitled to be present, and to take part in investigative measures conducted outside their country of origin within the limits foreseen by national legislation and/or specified by the JIT leader. Although members of the JIT may originate from various jurisdictions, they are required to carry out their duties in accordance with the national laws of the territory in which the investigative measure is taking place.

Legal Framework

The following international instruments, specified under section 88 Police Act 1996, may be used as a basis for a JIT agreement with UK law enforcement and prosecutors:

Consideration

A JIT facilitates the coordination of investigations and prosecutions conducted in parallel in several countries or in cases with a cross-border dimension. For complex international investigations the benefits of a JIT can be substantial. Advantages include:

  • helping to secure the best evidence in the participating states;
  • avoiding duplication of work;
  • ensuring that tactical decisions are made jointly so that the investigation in one country does not compromise that of another; and
  • making sure that jurisdictional issues are addressed early on and appropriate decisions are made regarding trial venue.

Examples of when a JIT may be appropriate include where:

  • coordinated action with other countries is required;
  • the appropriate jurisdiction for proceedings is unclear, or there is potential for concurrent jurisdiction;
  • there is a need to exchange a substantial amount of information and/or the need to request that extensive investigative measures are carried out in other countries.

Note it is not necessary to have a domestic investigation to participate in a JIT.

Role of Eurojust

Consider consulting the UK Desk at Eurojust when dealing with transnational crime, particularly if the offending occurs in three or more EU Member States, where a JIT may be appropriate. Eurojust can also facilitate cooperation with non-EU jurisdictions.

Eurojust Funding

Eurojust can provide financial and logistical support to the operational activities of JITs to ensure that financial constraints do not hinder the establishment and operational needs of JITs. See the JITs Funding Portal for further information. Note that Eurojust does not provide financial and logistical support to JITs that do not include an EU Member State.

Resources

The JITs Network of National Experts was established in 2004 to promote the use of JITs by practitioners. Appointed experts from each EU Member State act as contact points to advise practitioners on the use of the tool. The Network meets annually to review use of the tool and enhance its usage.

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