LYON, France – INTERPOL has established direct online access to authorized users via a secure website to its international database on stolen works as part of its fight against the illicit trade of stolen cultural property.
Online access will not be limited to the law enforcement community but will be open to all interested users who first have to apply for access to the database, which features the latest information on some 34,000 works of art stolen worldwide. Interested parties wishing to access the database will first have to complete an application form in order to obtain an individual password for database access.
With direct access to the database, which will be continuously updated as and when the INTERPOL General Secretariat headquarters in Lyon receives new information on stolen works of art worldwide, authorized users of the database will be provided with real-time access to the latest information recorded in the database. The available information will not include nominal data, but strictly object-related information such as descriptions and photographs of stolen cultural goods.
The co-ordinator of INTERPOL’s Works of Art (WOA) department, Karl Heinz Kind, said contribution and access to the database represented ‘an important tool to counter the traffic in cultural property effectively’. He said that increased reporting activities by INTERPOL’s 187 member countries would be expected so that all member countries could take full advantage of the benefits of information sharing, as with all types of crime reporting.
“Accessibility to stolen art information is a vital contribution to creating public awareness on the protection of cultural property,” said Mr Kind.
“The inclusion of a stolen cultural property item into INTERPOL’s stolen works of art database, and extensive online access to the database, therefore represent an important barrier to the illicit trafficking of a stolen cultural object by making its sale more difficult,” added Mr Kind.
As access to the database will not be limited to law enforcement agencies, but will also be offered to all concerned cultural and professional bodies (including Ministries of Culture, museums, auction houses, art galleries, foundations, collectors), it will also be made that much more difficult for a seller or purchaser to claim not having had the opportunity to check whether an item was recorded as stolen.
Online access to the database replaces the “INTERPOL – Stolen Works of Art” DVD previously made available upon application.