Forensic expertise and the exchange of forensic data is vital to international investigations.
At INTERPOL, we maintain databases of fingerprints, DNA profiles and facial images, allowing police across the world to make connections between criminals and crime scenes. We also provide training to police in our member countries, to ensure that frontline officers have the knowledge and skills necessary to assess, preserve and share evidence in line with best practices.
Disaster Victim Identification (DVI)
The process of identifying victims of major disasters such as terrorist attacks or earthquakes is rarely possible by visual recognition.
Comparison of fingerprints, dental records or DNA samples with ones stored in databases or taken from victims’ personal effects are often required to obtain a conclusive identification.
As people are travelling more and more, there is also a high probability that a disaster will result in the deaths of nationals from many different countries.
When a major disaster occurs, one country alone may not have sufficient resources to deal with mass casualties. In some cases, the incident may have damaged or destroyed the country’s existing emergency-response infrastructure, making the task of victim identification even more difficult.
A coordinated effort by the international community can significantly speed up the victim recovery and identification process, enabling victims’ families to begin the healing process and societies to rebuild, and, in the event of a terrorism incident, assisting investigators to identify possible attackers.
A range of support
Member countries can call on INTERPOL for assistance in disaster victim identification (DVI) immediately in the aftermath of a disaster. The services offered by INTERPOL include:
- A downloadable DVI guide;
- Assistance from the Command and Coordination Centre at the INTERPOL General Secretariat in Lyon, France, to send messages between National Central Bureaus 24 hours a day in Arabic, English, French or Spanish;
- An Incident Response Team to provide further assistance upon request, such as on-site investigative support or connection to INTERPOL’s databases.
INTERPOL's DVI activities are supported by a Steering Group and a Standing Committee on Disaster Victim Identification, both of which are made up of forensic and police experts. The Steering Group formulates INTERPOL DVI policy and strategic planning while the Standing Committee meets regularly to discuss improvements to procedures and standards in DVI matters. Policies and guidelines have been produced in the following areas and are backed up by training programmes:
- Victim care and family support;
- Occupational care for DVI teams;
- Compliance with international standards and forensic quality assurance controls;
- Information-sharing and exchange;
- Operational assistance to countries which lack DVI capacity.