Interpol - An Overview of International Police Organisation

Interpol is the world’s largest international police organization. This article gives information on the origins of Interpol, its functions, organisational structure and issues faced by the organisation related to the war against COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about the Classification of Interpol Notices given in the article.

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Interpol – Introduction

Interpol is the world’s largest international police organization, with 194 member countries. 

  1. Established in 1923, it enables cross-border police cooperation and supports and assists all organisations, authorities and services whose mission is to prevent or combat international crime. 
  2. Interpol has an objective to facilitate international police cooperation even where diplomatic relations are not present between certain countries. 
  3. Action is taken within the limits of existing laws in different countries and in the spirit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Interpol’s constitution prohibits ‘any intervention or activities of a political, military, religious or racial character.’

Interpol – Functions

All the activities of the Interpol are mostly based on its 3 core functions discussed in the table below.

Core Functions of Interpol
Secure global police communication services Operational data services and databases for police Operational police support services
  • A service called I-24/7  is operated by the Interpol which is a Global Police Communications System that provides a common platform for the member countries’ police organisations to share sensitive and urgent police information with each other.
  • It links law enforcement agencies of the member countries.
  • Interpol provides a Database that the police can access globally.
  • This database allows the police all over the world to access services necessary to prevent and investigate crimes.
  • The database also holds criminal data such as Criminal profiles, criminal records, theft records, stolen passports, vehicles, artwork and forgeries, etc.
  • Interpol supports law enforcement officials in the field with emergency support and operational activities, especially in its priority crime areas of fugitives, public safety and terrorism, drugs and organized crime, trafficking in human beings and financial and high-tech crime. A Command and Co-ordination Centre operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Interpol’s -Leadership

The international organization is led by a President and a Secretary-General who work in close tandem with each other and provide the required direction for the smooth functioning of the organization.

Interpol – Structure

According to Interpol’s Constitution, the organization comprises the following administrative departments:

  1. General Assembly
  2. General Secretariat
  3. Executive Committee
  4. National Central Bureaus 

The General Assembly and the Executive Committee form the organization’s governance.

General Assembly

The General Assembly of Interpol is responsible for taking all the important decisions related to the working methods, policies, finances, resources and other activities and programs.

  • An annual meeting is held and attended by the delegates appointed by the respective member countries.

Executive Committee

The General Assembly elects this committee of 13 members which comprises of:

  1. A President
  2. 3 Vice Presidents
  3. 9 Delegates that cover 4 different regions

General Secretariat

This organ of the Interpol works for 365 days 24/7.

  1. The General Secretariat has 6 regional offices for efficient functioning:
    • Argentina (South America)
    • Côte d’Ivoire (West Africa)
    • El Salvador (Central America)
    • Kenya (East Africa)
    • Thailand (South East Asia)
    • Zimbabwe (Africa)
  2. It has its headquarters in Lyon, France and a liaison office in New York, United States.

National Central Bureaus (NCB)

Each Interpol member country maintains a National Central Bureau staffed by national law enforcement officers. The NCB is the designated contact point for the General Secretariat, regional offices and other member countries requiring assistance with overseas investigations and the location and apprehension of fugitives.

Advisers

These are experts in a purely advisory capacity, who may be appointed by the Executive Committee and confirmed by the General Assembly.

Interpol Notices 

INTERPOL Notices are international requests for cooperation or alerts allowing police in member countries to share critical crime-related information.

Interpol Notices 
Red Notice To seek the location/arrest of a person wanted by a judicial jurisdiction or an international tribunal with a view to his/her extradition.
Green Notice To warn about a person’s criminal activities if that person is considered to be a possible threat to public safety.
Blue Notice To locate, identify or obtain information on a person of interest in a criminal investigation.
Yellow Notice To locate a missing person or to identify a person unable to identify himself/herself.
Black Notice To seek information on unidentified bodies.
Orange Notice To warn of an event, a person, an object or a process representing an imminent threat and danger to persons or property.
Purple Notice To provide information on modus operandi, procedures, objects, devices, or hiding places used by criminals.
Interpol – UNSC Special Notice To inform Interpol’s members that an individual or an entity is subject to UN sanctions.

Interpol and COVID-19

The International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) has warned member countries that cybercriminals were attempting to target hospitals and institutions on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19 with ransomware.

Issue:

Cybercriminals are using ransomware to hold hospitals and medical services digitally hostage, preventing them from accessing vital files and systems until a ransom is paid.

Details:

  1. In an alert sent to 194 nations, including India, Interpol said organisations at the forefront of the global response to the COVID-19 outbreak had also become targets of ransomware attacks, which were designed to lock them out of their critical systems in an attempt to extort payments.
  2. The agency’s Cybercrime Threat Response Team had detected an increase in the number of attempted ransomware attacks against key organisations and infrastructure engaged in the virus response.
  3. Interpol also issued a ‘Purple Notice’. It is issued to seek or provide information on modus operandi, objects, devices and concealment methods used by criminals. 

Interpol and India

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is designated as the National Central Bureau of India.

Notices can also be used by the United Nations, International Criminal Tribunals and the International Criminal Court to seek persons wanted for committing crimes within their jurisdiction, notably genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.

  1. The INTERPOL has issued a Red Corner Notice (RCN) against fugitive diamond merchant Nirav Modi’s brother Nehal in connection with the multi-billion dollar Punjab National Bank (PNB) scam.

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