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30 September 2003 - Media release

INTERPOL calls on world's police to use databases more effectively

BENIDORM, Spain -- INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald K. Noble has called on delegates to the organization's annual General Assembly to expand their use of INTERPOL's array of criminal information databases in the fight against international crime.

Speaking in Benidorm on the first day of INTERPOL's 72nd General Assembly, Mr Noble said police from its 181 member countries have access to a unique set of tools that will allow them to trace fugitives, stolen travel documents, stolen cars, DNA evidence and a number of other important facts in investigations.

The Secretary General pointed out that INTERPOL's database of stolen travel documents currently had more than 250,000 items registered, against which police and customs officials could check, for example, missing blank passports. That represented a huge increase, from approximately 3,000 documents a year earlier.

'We should be happy about this accomplishment, but we must increase the users and searches of this database if we are to make the world a safer place.' Mr. Noble said in his speech, a text of which was released on Tuesday.

The Secretary General said, however, that some of INTERPOL's databases were being more effectively used. For example, the stolen motor vehicles database has grown from 2 million entries in 1999 to a projected 2.6 million in 2003. Searches of that database in 2003 were expected to reach the one million mark for the first time, he said.

The Secretary General urged INTERPOL member countries not connected to the new I-24/7 communication system to do so promptly. This will enable police to communicate critical information, including photographs, fingerprints and even video, around the world to law enforcement agencies in INTERPOL's member nations over a state-of-the-art encrypted network. So far 78 nations have connected to the new system.

'Even with the best databases and the best communication system, INTERPOL cannot succeed unless each member country adapts the I-24/7 system into their domestic law enforcement network,' Mr. Noble said.

INTERPOL's 72nd annual General Assembly opened with the organization's largest ever gathering of high-ranking police officers, law enforcement officials and security experts from 157 of INTERPOL's 181 member nations.