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01 February 2011 - Media release

INTERPOL firearm forensics conference focuses on global action against gun crimes

LYON, France — An international meeting has opened at INTERPOL's General Secretariat headquarters to review national and international trends and advances in firearm forensics analysis and investigations, and to recommend international best practices through a global response to the threat of firearm crimes.

The three-day (1-3 February) symposium, organized in co-operation with Canadian-based Forensic Technology, brings together more than 200 ballistic experts and forensic scientists, law enforcement professionals, public safety administrators, policy makers and national agency directors from more than 75 INTERPOL member countries.

Opening the conference, INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald K. Noble said that as a threat to the safety of citizens in any country, firearms presented 'a wider danger' to a country's security, stability and development.

The head of INTERPOL said that INTERPOL's Ballistic Information Network (IBIN) would enable frontline officers to detect connections between separate crimes that could otherwise go undetected.

"We constantly see connections between firearm crimes and other criminal activities, from corruption and organized crime to human trafficking and terrorism. Firearms and their related activities know no borders, which is why a global response is required and is one which INTERPOL is ideally placed to provide," said Mr. Noble.

"Just as fingerprint data can link crimes and criminals across international borders, so too will the international sharing of ballistic data," added Mr Noble.

With the central focus of the symposium on firearm forensics intelligence sharing, Forensic Technology President Robert A. Walsh said: "The path towards a sustainable solution against firearm crimes lies in the optimal mix of well-informed professionals, carefully planned programmes and processes, and efficient use of technologies."

"No country remains unaffected by firearm violence. It is therefore crucial to better understand the root cause of this gun violence if we are to tackle the challenges posed by transnational firearm crime", added Mr Walsh.

Every firearm leaves unique microscopic markings on the surface areas of fired bullets and cartridge cases – a ballistic fingerprint. Current ballistics technology enables INTERPOL and law enforcement agencies to share and compare thousands of ballistic exhibits within hours. INTERPOL anticipates that shared ballistic data analysis will reveal illicit firearms trafficking routes and provide police with critical information about firearms traffickers and other violent criminals.

IBIN is a platform for the large-scale international sharing and comparison of ballistics data. It connects those member countries or territories that have the Integrated Ballistic Identification System created by INTERPOL's partner in this project, Forensic Technology, with further countries or regional alliances set to acquire the system in the future.