The Function of Interpol – Part 2
We continue our blog on the importance of Interpol by looking at how it communicates with other member law enforcement agencies. Interpol has a secure communications network that can pass information around the world to another member agencies and allows them to communicate together.
This means that the vast collection of information at Interpol can be tapped into at airports, ports and border crossings. It also allows member states to access other countries criminal records which is a powerful tool in the battle to identify international criminals.
Interpol is a key player in the fight against terrorism, and it also is vital component if there is an international disaster, such as a plane crash, as it has a quick response incident team. This team specializes in identity and can assist in victim identification and the dissemination of information to other nations police forces. They are also capable of acting as a central command coordinating events between different agencies that may be involved.
It should be pointed out that Europol is an European based agency that operates in a similar fashion to Interpol but within the confines of the EEC. It is a fact that before new member states can join the EEC, they first become members of Europol.
Interpol as an Organization
Interpol is based in Lyons, and the headquarters is called the General Secretariat. It is the General Assembly that houses the representatives of all member states and this meets annually. This assembly votes on all the major decisions that Interpol gets involved in. Each state has one vote and the majority carries the vote. Interpol also has six regional offices and they are located in Thailand, Argentina, El Salvador, Cote d’Ivoire, Kenya, New York and Zimbabwe. As well, of course, as the main General Secretariat offices in Lyons, which gives Interpol global coverage.
Interpol’s Color Codes
Often police forces around the world are alerted to particular situations that may arise by Interpol. There is a system of international codes used by Interpol, that straight away alerts what kind of incident may be or are actually occurring.
- Orange – a threat from hidden weapons (e.g. letter bomb)
- Black – Unidentified bodies
- Yellow – Missing persons
- Green – Information that is general about international criminals
- Blue – Data on any persons connected with a crime, perhaps even witnesses
- Red – Identifies wanted persons
Interpol was formed in 1923, but back then it was known as the International Criminal Police Commission and it was based in Vienna. Most of its work was in connection with publishing an international wanted list. The Second World War interrupted their early foundation of the ICPC as the Nazis actually took control of it.
After the war, the organization was revamped and it moved to Paris. ICPC then changed its name to Interpol and in 1989 it moved its headquarters to Lyons. Due to the growth of international crime, Interpol saw rapid growth and development. There is no doubt that without a central body passing important information across borders the world would be a more precarious place.