UEFA European Football Championship safety an INTERPOL priority
To assist local police authorities in making the 2012 UEFA European Football Championship in Ukraine and Poland as safe as possible for the players, officials and thousands of expected spectators, two INTERPOL Major Events Support Teams (IMESTs) have been deployed to the two host countries to help detect potential threats of terrorism, hooliganism and serious crime and to facilitate the real-time exchange of key police information to secure their borders.
Composed of experienced specialized police officers and highly trained operational assistants, the two IMEST teams were put in place ahead of the opening of the event (8 June – 1 July), to help make critical data accessible to key security officials in the two host countries.
The IMEST teams will help local police forces secure the four-week event by facilitating access to INTERPOL’s secure network which permits the exchange of vital police data such as fingerprints, images, stolen identity documents and wanted person profiles with all 190 INTERPOL member countries, allowing police in the field to quickly identify potential criminals.
“The 2012 UEFA European Football Championship is not exclusively a Ukrainian and Polish event. From a security standpoint, it is an international event, with all the security risks that entails,” commented Michael O’Connell, Director of Operational Police Support at INTERPOL’s General Secretariat headquarters in Lyon, France.
“The safety of thousands of fans over the next four weeks is INTERPOL's current top priority, which is why the INTERPOL IMEST teams will be there throughout the event to provide operational support to national law enforcement authorities, along with the INTERPOL National Central Bureaus in Warsaw and Kiev,” O’Connell added.
With thousands of visitors travelling to Poland and Ukraine during the tournament, ensuring security is the top priority for local law enforcement, as terrorists and other international criminals might try to use falsified, stolen or lost passports to conceal their identities and enter the country to engage in criminal activities.
To counter this threat, IMEST staff in Kiev and Warsaw will be able to process and check thousands of identity profiles with instant, direct access to INTERPOL’s Stolen and Lost Travel Documents (SLTD) database, which contains information on more than 32 million travel documents reported as lost or stolen by 163 countries and enables immigration and border control officers to ascertain the validity of a suspect travel document in seconds.
To date, some 70 IMESTs have provided support to countries across the world. INTERPOL is also preparing to deploy an IMEST to London to boost security at the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.