LYON, France - Top police officials from around the world meet in Lyon this week to discuss the future of combating transnational crime at INTERPOL’s annual conference for National Central Bureaus (NCBs).
Present in each of INTERPOL’s 195 member countries, NCBs are the unique point of contact linking the global police organization to national law enforcement.
The Heads of NCB conference, now in its 17th edition, is a leading platform for international police cooperation, allowing senior policing officials invaluable face time with their counterparts from other countries and regions.
NCBs also help shape INTERPOL’s operational priorities throughout the meeting, this year addressing efforts to enhance the compatibility of national police data with INTERPOL systems and strengthen cooperation in the areas of cybercrime, human trafficking and emerging forms of terrorism.
Taking place on the eve of INTERPOL’s centenary, the conference opened with INTERPOL President Ahmed Naser Al-Raisi illustrating the economic and technological transformations that have re-shaped the world throughout INTERPOL’s 100 years of existence.
“In 1923, when the International Criminal Police Commission [as INTERPOL was then called] was created, radios had just been installed in police cars and cell phones, computers and the Internet were science fiction.
“Now, digital technologies are central to INTERPOL’s operations. A new era of cybercrime is challenging police and environmental crimes threaten the planet,” President Al-Raisi said.
Demonstrating the digital transformation of crime, an INTERPOL-led crackdown on online fraud that concluded last week saw more than 1,000 suspects arrested and approximately USD 130 million in illicit funds intercepted.
“The criminal landscape has grown increasingly complex, and so has the global law enforcement architecture,” said INTERPOL Secretary General Jürgen Stock as he addressed delegates.
With the emergence of new specialized agencies or regional police networks, the central role of NCBs and INTERPOL remains pivotal, added Secretary General Stock. “This is our shared duty: to connect the dots and link the different networks together.”
Crucial role of NCBs
The Heads of NCB meeting will see the INTERPOL General Secretariat present a range of forward-looking policing capabilities to support member countries. These include:
- Enriching the data shared through INSIGHT, an analytical platform powered by artificial intelligence;
- Upgrading INTERPOL’s International Child Sexual Exploitation (ICSE) database to speed up the process by which investigators identify victims in child exploitation material; and
- Streamlining case-related information management through Smart Case Messaging under the I-Core programme.
NCBs play a crucial role in ensuring that INTERPOL’s new policing tools are available to, and utilized by, national law enforcement agencies, including frontline officers. “Each NCB stands at the centre of a national galaxy of its own,” said Secretary General Stock.
The exchange of police data, central to INTERPOL’s work since the organization’s founding, is relied upon by law enforcement more than ever before.
Police search INTERPOL databases more than 20 million times each day, which equates to around 250 searches per second.
A session on data-driven policing saw delegates make a collective pitch for greater interoperability of data, ensuring consistency of standards so that information in national or regional systems can also be shared through INTERPOL channels.
As police leaders at the Heads of NCB meeting noted during the session, more data does not always mean better policing, especially when initiatives overlap with or duplicate existing systems.
Reflecting on the next 100 years of INTERPOL’s existence, Secretary General Stock concluded: “The answer to a new century of criminal threats is not in creating new systems or alternatives that will need to be field-tested.
“It is about doing what we know works in real policing life – and doing so even better and faster than before.”