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01 July 2011 - Media release

INTERPOL head warns of security gaps to European police chiefs and Ministers

THE HAGUE, Netherlands – Cyberterrorism and increased air travel are the two greatest threats to global security, INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald K. Noble has told Ministers, European Union representatives and senior law enforcement officials at the European Police Chiefs Convention.

The three-day conference (29 June-1 July) focusing on how to combat and prevent organized crime and terrorism and attended by more than 200 European Chiefs of Police, senior law enforcement officers and academic experts also marks the official opening of Europol’s new headquarters.

The INTERPOL chief said that Europol’s new state-of-the-art building highlighted the need for law enforcement to be equipped with true cutting edge facilities to combat today’s criminals and terrorists, who are extremely fast at adapting and taking advantage of new technologies. In this respect, Mr Noble highlighted how cooperation between INTERPOL and Europol had gained new momentum over the past few years, adding this was in large part due to Europol Director Rob Wainwright’s ‘vision and commitment to international police cooperation, in Europe and beyond’.

The head of the world police body warned that for future effective law enforcement collaboration in today’s globalized world with more international travel than ever before, and with the number of air passengers worldwide expected to rise to three billion in 2014, the current security strategy of physically screening individuals before boarding may no longer be viable. Additional tripwires, such as the systematic screening of passports against INTERPOL’s database of stolen and lost travel documents – the only one of its kind in the world – need to be put in place.

Delegates heard that technical solutions developed by INTERPOL now mean that border officials can instantly check if a person is attempting to enter a country on any one of the 28 million stolen or lost travel documents recorded in INTERPOL’s database by 158 countries, of which 131 are non-EU countries contributing information not stored in the Schengen Information System.

“Nearly ten years after the September 11th attacks, I think we are at a point where we need to take a step back, see what has been accomplished and what may lie ahead of us in the years to come,” said Secretary General Noble.

“We may not clearly foresee which shape terrorism will take in five, ten or twenty years from now, but we know one thing – terrorists will need fraudulent travel documents at one step or another of their deadly logistics, and INTERPOL’s system providing access to our database is one important tripwire to stop them before they are ready to pull the trigger,” added the INTERPOL chief.

Participating in the Ministerial panel on Friday, which included EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmström, the head of the world police body reiterated the concerns he raised over cybersecurity during Thursday’s keynote speech, that international cooperation is urgently required to collectively face the cyber threat.

“Cyber attacks will one day or another be used by terrorists against critical infrastructure companies in Europe and elsewhere. Currently there is almost no international cooperation to share information for the screening of individuals with privileged access to the IT systems that support critical infrastructures, a security gap that I strongly feel should be of real concern to us all,” concluded Mr Noble.

INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald K. Noble (left) told the European Police Chiefs Convention that cyberterrorism and increased air travel are among the greatest threats to global security.