Crime Busters Of The World
The rapid growth of international travel and the Internet during the past few decades has made it easier to visit new places and learn new things. But these positive advances have also had a negative impact: they make it easier for criminals to avoid being caught by police.
What is INTERPOL?
Many crimes take place across several countries. Drugs are smuggled from South America to Europe via Africa. Criminals can commit a crime in one country, then hop on an airplane and flee to a different part of the world. Or they can use a computer to commit a crime such as stealing a person’s identity or hacking into a bank account thousands of miles away. This is where INTERPOL comes in. It's purpose is to connect police around the world quickly and easily, so they can work together to prevent and solve international crimes.
Not quite James Bond!
Despite the way INTERPOL is often portrayed in movies, there aren't any secret agents traveling undercover around the world like James Bond! Headquartered in Lyon, France, the organization has local offices (called National Central Bureaus) in 190 member countries. The police officers who work for INTERPOL are infact seconded – or ‘loaned’ – to them by member countries.
INTERPOL's databases contain information on criminals and crimes that police in member countries can search via a secure communications network. These databases have names and photographs of known criminals, fingerprints, DNA profiles, guns, lost or stolen passports, stolen motor vehicles and more. When police in one country want to send a warning about a criminal or a threat to police in other countries, they use an INTERPOL notice. Notices come in eight different colours for different warnings – for example, Red Notices are international wanted persons alerts, Yellow Notices are used to help locate missing people, and Orange Notices warn of an immediate danger to the public.
If a crisis, like a plane crash or an earthquake occurs in a country, police there can contact INTERPOL's 24-hour Command and Coordination Centre for help. Teams of experts are then sent to help local police with investigations, while other teams can be sent to assist with security for major events like the Olympic Games.
Have Questions? Want to learn more?
INTERPOL has recently launched an interactive game at StudentZone, a website designed to help students learn about the organization and test their investigative skills in an interactive game. If you have any questions for INTERPOL, be sure to ask in the comment box!