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23 October 2015

INTERPOL course aims to boost efforts against chemical attacks

KUANTAN, Malaysia – Identifying, investigating and successfully prosecuting the criminal use of chemical agents was the focus of an INTERPOL training course in Malaysia for law enforcement officers, first responders, as well as health and environmental officials.

Under the framework of INTERPOL’s Project Litmus, the five-day training course (19-23 October) was attended by participants from Malaysia and Pakistan to facilitate cooperation and develop a common knowledge base of chemical crimes and their investigation. The course was the first in a series that will continue through 2016.

By developing an early warning capability of the criminal use of chemical warfare agents and toxic chemicals, Project Litmus will train law enforcement entities in INTERPOL member countries to identify and follow up on local signs of chemical attacks in preparation, and establish liaison relationships among incident responders.

As a result, Project Litmus aims to increase the capacity of law enforcement entities to disrupt a chemical attack in development before it can be carried out.

The Coordinator of INTERPOL’s CBRNE Sub-Directorate, Alan Grimmer, highlighted the role of cooperation between key agencies to develop a common knowledge base of chemical crimes and their investigation: “A chemical attack requires an immediate response, a rapid intervention and a series of measures already in place to effectively eradicate the danger.”

“With appropriate training, first responder agencies, including fire and ambulance services, together with the health community and environmental agencies, can trigger law enforcement actions to prevent, or better respond to chemical attacks,” added Mr Grimmer.

Key aspects of the training included understanding the evidentiary requirements of investigating authorities, facilitating exchange of medical, forensic and scientific evidence, and raising awareness of local authorities to identify chemical threats and enhance their capabilities to prevent and respond to an incident.

The course also underlined how investigating crimes related to the use of chemical agents also requires the exchange of specialist knowledge between all involved agencies to ensure a comprehensive investigation and successful prosecution.