LYON, France - To help British law enforcement authorities make the 2012 Olympic Games as safe as possible for more than 10,000 athletes and millions of spectators, an INTERPOL Major Events Support Teams (IMEST) stationed in the British capital since July continues to assist local, national and global efforts to detect threats of terrorism and serious crime as the 16-day event reaches the half-way stage.
With thousands of visitors travelling to the United Kingdom every day, national security is a top concern, particularly as terrorists and other international criminals may try to use falsified, stolen or lost passports to conceal their identities and enter the country anonymously to engage in criminal activities.
Powerful tools in the field
Composed of experienced police officers and expert operational assistants, INTERPOL’s London-based IMEST team permits the quick identification of potential criminals through direct access to INTERPOL’s numerous criminal intelligence databases. The Stolen and Lost Documents (SLTD) database, which contains more than 33 million records from 165 countries, is a key INTERPOL tool, enabling immigration and border control officers to swiftly assess the validity of a passport presented by an individual wanting to enter the country.
A permanent operational support service
To date, nearly 80 IMESTs have helped countries across the globe to secure a wide range of international events, the most recent being the EURO 2012 football championships in Ukraine and Poland, the 2nd Nuclear Security Summit in Korea and the 2012 World Ski Championships in Bulgaria.
INTERPOL will continue to provide this kind of operational field support at the request of a member country, with deployments already being planned for 2013 and beyond, including the International Ice Hockey World Championship which will be hosted in Belarus in May 2014.
Ice Hockey World Championship 2014
During a visit to INTERPOL’s General Secretariat headquarters on 2 August Belarus’s Minister of Internal Affairs, Major-General Igor Shunevich, was updated on the range of security initiatives taken by the world’s largest police organization to strengthen borders and make international sporting events as safe as possible for athletes, spectators, journalists and national citizens. A formal agreement was signed for the deployment of an IMEST to the Belarusian capital in May 2014 to assist national authorities make the International Ice Hockey World Championships (IIHWC) as safe as possible.
“The safety of the thousands of people who attend major sporting events is INTERPOL's top priority, which is why an IMEST team will be stationed in Minsk throughout the Championships to support local law enforcement authorities, just as one was stationed at the last event in Bratislava and most recently in London for the 2012 Olympic Games,” commented INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald K. Noble.
“Making this kind of international event safe is a complex security challenge requiring timely global police coordination. The duty of the INTERPOL teams at these events is to boost security by making sure the right information is in the right place at the right time, in close cooperation with our colleagues from the country’s National Central Bureau,” concluded Mr Noble.