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20 January 2011 - Media release

International law enforcement co-operation underpins European security, INTERPOL chief tells EU ministers

Need to protect EU's virtual borders from cybercrime in face of changing security landscape


GÖDÖLLŐ, Hungary – INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald K. Noble has told European Union Justice and Home Affairs Ministers that while the strategic partnership between INTERPOL and the EU plays a key role in protecting Europe’s physical borders against transnational organized crime, it increasingly needs to address ‘the real threat to EU’s virtual borders, citizens and economies’ posed by cybercrime.

Secretary General Noble told the informal meeting of EU ministers who gathered under the aegis of Hungary's EU Presidency that INTERPOL was a key partner for the EU in the fight against organized crime and security threats by ensuring links with the rest of the world via its global tools and reach.

The head of the world police body said that 'a key pillar’ of the strategic partnership between the EU and INTERPOL was the effective management of both physical and virtual borders where ‘INTERPOL has a unique capacity to supplement efforts at the EU level.

Mr Noble described INTERPOL’s relations with Europol as a strong partnership based on common cause and shared purpose in which the lines of information, expertise and resources flow both ways, in crime areas as diverse as maritime piracy, human trafficking and counterfeiting.

To exploit the vulnerability of transnational organized criminals at borders, the INTERPOL chief said that INTERPOL maintained the only global repository of stolen and lost travel documents, which currently holds 24 million records submitted by more than 150 countries. Last year, INTERPOL member countries searched this database almost half a billion times, recording more than 42,000 positive matches, of which more than half were recorded by EU member countries.

The ministers also heard how INTERPOL has also developed the technical solutions to expand access to this and other global INTERPOL databases to officers at airports and border checkpoints in countries across the EU, including in Hungary which Mr Noble described as ‘unwavering’ in its commitment to INTERPOL.

But even as INTERPOL and the EU work to ensure physical borders and security, the head of INTERPOL said that protecting the EU’s virtual borders represented a challenge with the threat of cybercrime.

“A cyber attack can originate anywhere outside a country’s or continent’s borders, but the threat to citizens and economies at home is very real,” said Mr Noble as he underlined how 75 per cent of all Internet users worldwide had reported being the victim of online crime at least once.

Beyond acts of cybercrime, the ministers heard, many forms of criminality now have a technical component, for example terrorism, with radicalization largely taking place on the Internet.

In this respect, the INTERPOL chief said that the world police body expected to be able to devise 21st century solutions to some of the toughest cybercrime challenges through the INTERPOL Global Complex being developed in Singapore by developing cutting-edge research, development and operational facilities.

The INTERPOL Global Complex is due to be fully operational by late 2013 or early 2014.  Its establishment was approved by INTERPOL’s General Assembly in Qatar in November 2010 and is the next step in INTERPOL’s evolution towards strengthening global policing capabilities.