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Interpol Unveils New Worldwide Police Database - 2004-03-17

Law enforcement officials taking part in a meeting organized by Interpol have ended their session in the Philippines with agreement on the need to boost international cooperation in the fight against transnational crime and terrorism.

Police officers from 63 countries took part in the two-day meeting, which focused on ways Interpol can support regional and national police forces.

Interpol, the international police cooperative agency, has global data bases on fingerprints, stolen vehicles, stolen documents and DNA.

Alain Barbier, Interpol's assistant director of forensics and a specialist in technical databases, says Interpol is rolling out a new generation of communications equipment for Interpol's 181-member countries.

"It's to reinforce this need to cooperate internationally and exchange information internationally for all the regions," said Mr. Barbier, "because today we know that criminality and serious crime is ... worldwide, and that means to communicate or to move around the world are so easy to use that criminals are everywhere at every time."

Interpol's new global communication system, known as I-24/7 is a high security system using Internet connections for heavily encrypted criminal data and police messages. Mr. Barbier says this new communication system is essential for fighting terrorism and criminals throughout the world.

He says that any criminal, including any terrorist, has a name, fingerprints, and a DNA profile. Usually that person is moving around the world with forged or stolen documents. With the global databases and the I-24/7 communications system, information about criminals at places such as border crossings and airports can be quickly passed to those who need it.

"Around that criminal, or around that terrorist, there are a lot of elements that can be exchanged, can be controlled," he explained. "At border control and the airport, or any time in an investigation process that will allow an investigation using our databases and information in the databases put by another country to get leads on that person, or to arrest that person at the border control."

Mr. Barbier says the new communications system may be able to stop a terrorist from committing a terrorist act, or stop a criminal from committing a crime.

He said Interpol to date has already arrested "many criminals" including terrorists, as a result of the global data base matches.