NEW YORK, USA – The coordinator of INTERPOL’s Firearms Programme has outlined at the United Nations how INTERPOL supports police officers responsible for investigating firearm-related crimes by offering powerful tools which can help its 190 member countries improve their collection and sharing of firearms intelligence to prevent and solve crime.
Speaking to the Review Conference of the United Nations Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All its Aspects, Tracy Hite said: “The tools, services and processes which INTERPOL’s firearms unit has developed for firearms investigations serve to facilitate international cooperation in identifying and tracing firearms, investigating international firearms trafficking, and criminal misuse of firearms.”
Most notably, the INTERPOL Firearms Reference Table is a comprehensive web-based identification tool that gives investigators the ability to find the necessary identifiers for a firearm in addition to the serial number – namely the make, model, caliber, and country of origin or importer – thereby increasing the probability of successfully tracing the firearm’s origin. It is regularly updated with data supplied by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police which has also assisted the world police body with the development of its firearms training initiatives.
Officials at the UN heard how the INTERPOL Ballistics Information Network (IBIN) is a database and a network for large-scale international sharing and comparison of ballistics data. Currently, nine member countries (Denmark, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Portugal, the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom) are contributing to IBIN, with more than 134,000 records in the database.
“Both of these databases are in operation today and are growing with regular updates and enhancements. But The full value of this system can only be achieved if more countries participate,” underlined Tracy Hite.
Complementing these tools is a project under development, the INTERPOL Illicit Arms Records and tracing Management System (iARMS). Generously funded by the European Union, iARMS will be the first global system that allows member countries to report and query lost, stolen, trafficked and smuggled firearms.
Modeled after INTERPOL’s Stolen and Lost Travel Document System which today contains more than 33 million entries, iARMS will feature a hit alarm to the country of report when a match is detected. Replacing INTERPOL’s existing firearms tracing system, it will redirect users to trace firearms not found in the database, thereby linking the two processes of searching a database of reported lost, stolen, smuggled and trafficked firearms with firearms tracing. It will also enable states to capture their own statistics for crime-trend analysis and to assist them in meeting reporting requirements. iARMS will be piloted to 20 countries in September.
“We are very pleased to be able to make available these technologically advanced tools to assist member countries. We are confident that their increased use will contribute to policing and greater security of all, and we are eager to facilitate their enhanced use by more countries,” concluded Tracy Hite.
A threat to the safety of citizens in any country, the criminal misuse of firearms also poses a wider threat to global security, peace, stability and development. Firearms are easy to conceal and transport, and offer lucrative profits to criminals trafficking in illicit small arms and light weapons.
Each year, firearms are used in more than 245,000 murders worldwide, excluding war-torn countries. This figure is only a small percentage of all crimes committed with firearms. Criminals use firearms to threaten and support their criminal acts. No country is unaffected by firearms violence.