Focus: INTERPOL Major Events Support Teams

31 January 2020
Securing the world’s most high-profile events

LYON, France – International events, whether they are of political, cultural or athletic nature, pose many challenges for law enforcement. The increased border traffic, large crowds, VIPs, intense media exposure and opportunities for financial gain are just some of the elements which can attract criminal activity.

In 2019, INTERPOL worked closely with local authorities and law enforcement officials from 10 different countries to guarantee a safe environment for fans, athletes, artists, government representatives and the general public.

INTERPOL Major Event Support Teams 2019. Brazil: CONMEBOL Copa America. Niger: 33rd African Union Summit Belarus 2nd European Games Japan: G20 Osaka Summit Peru: 18th Pan American Games France: G7 and G5 Sahel Summit Italy: 76th Venice International Film Festival Singapore: Formula 1 World Championship Philippines: 30th Southeast Asian Games Qatar: 16th FIFA Club World Cup
35 international fugitives were identified by INTERPOL Major Events Support Teams in 2019.

INTERPOL alerts and quick reaction

On site, IMEST team members supported national authorities and ensured they were able to make the best use of INTERPOL's databases. They facilitated real-time exchange of messages and vital police data between countries, including fingerprints, photos, wanted person notices, and data relating to stolen and lost travel documents and stolen motor vehicles.

They also helped local authorities keep a close eye on suspected terrorists or members of known organized crime groups.

IMEST teams carried out more than 7.8 million checks of names, documents, vehicles plates and facial images against INTERPOL’s databases.

The 10 IMESTs detected more than 200 potential threats, including:

  • 31 wanted persons;
  • 6 travel documents associated with INTERPOL Notices;
  • 101 hits against in the Stolen and Lost Travel Documents database;
  • 19 matches in INTERPOL’s Facial Recognition database;
  • 1 hit in the Stolen Motor Vehicles database.

For each match against INTERPOL’s databases, IMEST team members liaised with the Organization’s Command and Coordination Centre (CCC) and INTERPOL National Central Bureaus to ensure police on the ground were informed.

INTERPOL officers cross-check fingerprints during the G7 Summit in France.
INTERPOL officers cross-check fingerprints during the G7 Summit in France.
IMEST team members on the ground during the F1 Championship in Singapore.
IMEST team members on the ground during the F1 Championship in Singapore.
IMESTs facilitate the real-time exchange of police data between countries.
IMESTs facilitate the real-time exchange of police data between countries.
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INTERPOL’s Command and Coordination Centre

The Command and Coordination Centre (CCC) provides 24/7 operational and communications support to NCBs in INTERPOL’s four official languages (English, French, Spanish and Arabic). It is therefore perfectly placed to oversee the deployment of IMESTS.

In total, 30 INTERPOL General Secretariat staff was deployed by the CCC, including operations specialists, regional specialized officers, and experts in biometrics, border management, counter-terrorism, explosive materials, firearms trafficking, information technology and integrity in sports. They all worked closely with the national authorities in the international police cooperation centers, airport security units, arenas or different city checkpoints set up during these events by the national authorities.

“Our role is to mobilize all of INTERPOL’s available resources to provide comprehensive support to NCBs and national authorities. We also cooperate with partner organizations as required. This approach is indispensable to help member countries meet their security objectives for major events.” Geir Gudmundsen, Assistant Director, Command and Coordination Centre

Regional approach and international bridges for police cooperation

A major component of INTERPOL’s holistic approach major event support is capitalize on existing projects in the region. For example, INTERPOL’s Project Riptide, which aims to tackle foreign terrorist fighter movement in Southeast Asia, supported the IMEST for the Southeast Asia Games in Manila.

Another key example of this was the IMEST in Niger, which worked closely with INTERPOL’s G5 Sahel Project. The Project encourages the exchange of police information to prevent terrorist attacks in the region. The IMEST Niger also worked closely with Project Gemini, which focuses on training officers at the NCBs and on the ground – at border-control points in particular – on how to use INTERPOL’s databases. As a result, 24 Nigerian officers were trained on INTERPOL policing capabilities prior to the event.

The IMEST in Niger worked closely with INTERPOL’s G5 Sahel Project
The IMEST in Niger worked closely with INTERPOL’s G5 Sahel Project