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International Criminal Police Organization – INTERPOL
Common nameInterpol
Interpol logo.png
Logo of the International Criminal Police Organization – INTERPOL.
Agency overview
Formed7 September 1923
Employees703 (2012)[1]
Annual budget€70 million (2012)[2]
Legal personalityGovernmental: Government agency
Jurisdictional structure
International agency
Countries190 member states
Governing bodyInterpol General Assembly
Constituting instrumentICPO-INTERPOL Constitution and General Regulations
General nature
Operational structure
HeadquartersLyon, France
Agency executives
National Central Bureaus190
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International Criminal Police Organization – INTERPOL
Common nameInterpol
Interpol logo.png
Logo of the International Criminal Police Organization – INTERPOL.
Agency overview
Formed7 September 1923
Employees703 (2012)[1]
Annual budget€70 million (2012)[2]
Legal personalityGovernmental: Government agency
Jurisdictional structure
International agency
Countries190 member states
Governing bodyInterpol General Assembly
Constituting instrumentICPO-INTERPOL Constitution and General Regulations
General nature
Operational structure
HeadquartersLyon, France
Agency executives
National Central Bureaus190
Interpol headquarters in Lyon.

Coordinates: 45°46′56″N 4°50′54″E / 45.78219°N 4.84838°E / 45.78219; 4.84838 The International Criminal Police Organization, or INTERPOL, is an intergovernmental organization facilitating international police cooperation. It was established as the International Criminal Police Commission (ICPC) in 1923 and adopted its telegraphic address as its common name in 1956.[3]

Interpol has an annual budget of around €70 million most of which is provided through annual contributions by its membership of 190 countries. The organization's headquarters is in Lyon, France. It is the second largest intergovernmental organization after the United Nations by member states. In 2012, the Interpol General Secretariat employed a staff of 703 representing 98 member countries.[1] Its current Secretary-General is Ronald Noble, a former United States Under Secretary of the Treasury for Enforcement. Succeeding Khoo Boon Hui, its current President is Deputy Central Director of the French Judicial Police Mireille Balestrazzi.

To keep Interpol as politically neutral as possible, its constitution forbids it, at least in theory, from undertaking interventions or activities of a political, military, religious, or racial nature.[4] Its work focuses primarily on public safety, terrorism, crimes against humanity, environmental crime, genocide, war crimes[citation needed], organized crime, piracy, illicit traffic in works of art, illicit drug production, drug trafficking, weapons smuggling, human trafficking, money laundering, child pornography, white-collar crime, computer crime, intellectual property crime and corruption.


In the first part of the 20th century, several efforts were taken to formalize international police cooperation, but they initially failed. Among these efforts were the First International Criminal Police Congress in Monaco in 1914[5] and the International Police Conference in New York in 1922. The Monaco Congress failed because it was organized by legal experts and political officials, not by police professionals, while the New York Conference failed to attract international attention.

In 1923, a new initiative was taken at the International Criminal Police Congress in Vienna where the International Criminal Police Commission (ICPC) was successfully founded as the direct forerunner of Interpol. Founding members included police officials from Russia, Austria, Germany, Belgium, Poland, China, Egypt, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Romania, Sweden, Switzerland and Yugoslavia.[6] The United States did not join Interpol until 1938, although a US police officer unofficially attended the 1923 congress.[7] The United Kingdom joined in 1928.[8]

Following the Anschluss (Germany's annexation of Austria) in 1938, the organization fell under the control of Nazi Germany, and the Commission's headquarters were eventually moved to Berlin in 1942. From 1938 to 1945, the presidents of Interpol included Otto Steinhäusl, Reinhard Heydrich, Arthur Nebe, and Ernst Kaltenbrunner. All were generals in the SS, and Kaltenbrunner was the highest ranking SS officer executed after the Nuremberg Trials.

After the end of World War II in 1945, the organization was revived as the International Criminal Police Organization by officials from Belgium, France, Scandinavia and the United Kingdom. Its new headquarters were established in Saint-Cloud, a suburb of Paris. They remained there until 1989, when they were moved to their present location in Lyon.

Until the 1980s Interpol did not intervene in the prosecution of Nazi war criminals in accordance with Article 3 of its Constitution forbidding intervention in "political" matters.[9]

In July 2010, former Interpol President Jackie Selebi was found guilty of corruption by the South African High Court in Johannesburg for accepting bribes worth €156,000 from a drug trafficker.[10] After being charged in January 2008, Selebi resigned as president of Interpol and was put on extended leave as National Police Commissioner of South Africa.[11] He was replaced by Arturo Herrera Verdugo, the National Commissioner of Investigations Police of Chile and former vice president for the American Zone, who remained acting president until October 2008 and the appointment of Khoo Boon Hui.[12]

On 8 November 2012, the 81st INTERPOL General Assembly closed with the election of Deputy Central Director of the French Judicial Police Mireille Balestrazzi as the new president of the organization. She is Interpol's first female president.[13]


The role of Interpol is defined by the general provisions of its constitution.

Article 2 states that its role is:

  1. To ensure and promote the widest possible mutual assistance between all criminal police authorities within the limits of the laws existing in the different countries and in the spirit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
  2. To establish and develop all institutions likely to contribute effectively to the prevention and suppression of ordinary law crimes.

Article 3 states:[14]

It is strictly forbidden for the Organization to undertake any intervention or activities of a political, military, religious or racial character.


I­nterpol differs from most law-enforcement agencies—agents do not make arrests themselves, and there is no single Interpol jail where criminals are taken. The agency functions as an administrative liaison between the law-enforcement agencies of the member countries, providing communications and database assistance. This is vital when fighting international crime because language, cultural and bureaucratic differences can make it difficult for officers of different nations to work together. For example, if ICE and FBI special agents track a terrorist to Italy, they may not know whom to contact in the Polizia di Stato, if the Carabinieri have jurisdiction over some aspect of the case, or who in the Italian government must be notified of the ICE/FBI's involvement. ICE and FBI can contact the Interpol National Central Bureau in Italy, which acts as a liaison between the United States and Italian law-enforcement agencies.

Interpol's databases help law enforcement see the big picture of international crime. While other agencies have their own extensive crime databases, the information rarely extends beyond one nation's borders. Interpol can track criminals and crime trends around the world. They maintain collections of fingerprints and face photos, lists of wanted persons, DNA samples and travel documents. Their lost and stolen travel document database alone contains more than 12 million records. They also analyze all these data and release information on crime trends to the member countries.

A secure worldwide communications network allows Interpol agents and member countries to contact each other at any time. Known as I-24/7, the network offers constant access to Interpol's databases. While the National Central Bureaus are the primary access sites to the network, some member countries have expanded it to key areas such as airports and border access points. Member countries can also access each other's criminal databases via the I-24/7 system.

Interpol issued more than 12,000 notices in 2012 of which 8,136 were Red Notices compared to 3,131 in 2007 and 1,212 in 2002.[1]

In the event of an international disaster, terrorist attack or assassination, Interpol can send an Incident Response Team (IRTs). IRTs can offer a range of expertise and database access to assist with victim identification, suspect identification and the dissemination of information to other nations' law enforcement agencies. In addition, at the request of local authorities, they can act as a central command and logistics operation to coordinate other law enforcement agencies involved in a case. Such teams were deployed 10 times in 2012.[1] Interpol began issuing its own travel documents in 2009 with hopes that member states would remove visa requirements for individuals travelling for Interpol business, thereby improving response times.[15]


In 2012 Interpol's operating income was €70 million, of which 74% was statutory contributions by member countries and 21% came from externally funded projects, private foundations and commercial enterprises.[1] From 2004 to 2010 Interpol's external auditors was the French Court of Audit.[16][17] In November 2010 the Court of Audit was replaced by the Office of the Auditor General of Norway for a three-year term with an option for a further three years.[18][19]


Despite its political neutral stance, some have criticized the agency for its role in arrests that critics contend were politically motivated.[20] An example involved journalist Hamza Kashgari, who in February 2012 fled his home country of Saudi Arabia to avoid prosecution for apostasy, and was subsequently arrested in Malaysia.[21][22] The Royal Malaysian Police initially asserted that they had arrested Kashgari because they had received an Interpol Red Notice request to do so. However, Interpol stated that no such notice had been issued, and the Malaysian police retracted their claim.[22][23]

In 2013, Interpol was criticized over its multi-million dollar deals with such private-sector bodies as FIFA, Philip Morris, and the pharmaceutical industry. The criticism was mainly about the lack of transparency and potential conflicts of interest.[24][25][26][27][28][29]


The current emblem of Interpol was adopted in 1950 and comprises the following elements:[3]

Member states and sub-bureaus[edit]

Sub-bureaus shown in italics.

Non-Member states[edit]

 Cook Islands |  Falkland Islands |  Faroe Islands |  North Korea |  Kiribati |  Niue |  Palau |  Solomon Islands |  Tuvalu |  Vanuatu |


In addition to its General Secretariat headquarters in Lyon, Interpol maintains seven regional bureaus:[1]

Interpol's Command and Coordination Centres offer a 24/7 point of contact for national police forces seeking urgent information or facing a crisis. The original is in Lyon with a second in Buenos Aires added in September 2011. A third is scheduled to open in Singapore in September 2014.[30]

Interpol opened a Special Representative Office to the United Nations in New York in 2004[31] and to the European Union in Brussels in 2009.[32]

The organization is currently constructing the Interpol Global Complex for Innovation (ICGI) in Singapore to act as its research and development facility. It is due to become operational in September 2014.[33]

Secretaries-general and presidents[edit]

Ronald Noble at the 6th Global Congress about combating piracy and counterfeiting.

Secretaries-general since organization's inception in 1923:

Austria Oskar Dressler1923–1946
France Louis Ducloux1946–1951
France Marcel Sicot1951–1963
France Jean Népote1963–1978
France André Bossard1978–1985
United Kingdom Raymond Kendall1985–2000
United States Ronald Noble2000–present

Presidents since organization's inception in 1923:

Austria Johann Schober1923–1932
Austria Franz Brandl1932–1934
Austria Eugen Seydel1934–1935
Austria Michael Skubl1935–1938
Nazi Germany Otto Steinhäusl1938–1940
Nazi Germany Reinhard Heydrich1940–1942
Nazi Germany Arthur Nebe1942–1943
Nazi Germany Ernst Kaltenbrunner1943–1945
Belgium Florent Louwage1945–1956
Portugal Agostinho Lourenço1956–1960
United Kingdom Richard Jackson1960–1963
Finland Fjalar Jarva1963–1964
Belgium Firmin Franssen1964–1968
West Germany Paul Dickopf1968–1972
Canada William Leonard Higgitt1972–1976
Sweden Carl Persson1976–1980
Philippines Jolly Bugarin1980–1984
United States John Simpson1984–1988
France Ivan Barbot1988–1992
Canada Norman Inkster1992–1994
Sweden Björn Eriksson1994–1996
Japan Toshinori Kanemoto1996–2000
Spain Jesús Espigares Mira2000–2004
South Africa Jackie Selebi2004–2008
Chile Arturo Herrera Verdugoacting president until the General Assembly in Saint Petersburg in October 2008, and candidate for the President on that General Assembly
Singapore Khoo Boon HuiOct 2008–2012
France Mireille BalestrazziNov 2012–2016

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "2012 Annual Report". Interpol. Retrieved 5 August 2013. 
  2. ^ "Financial Statements for the year ended 31 December 2012". Interpol. 23 May 2013. Retrieved 9 July 2013. 
  3. ^ a b "Name and logo". Interpol. Retrieved 9 July 2013. 
  4. ^ "Neutrality (Article 3 of the Constitution)". Interpol. Retrieved 9 July 2013. 
  5. ^ "History". Interpol. Retrieved 30 January 2011. 
  6. ^ "Interpol: Frequently Asked Questions". Fair Trials International. November 2011. Retrieved 9 July 2013. 
  7. ^ "Interpol Member States: The United States". Interpol. Retrieved 5 January 2012. 
  8. ^ "Interpol Member States: The United Kingdom". Interpol. Retrieved 17 August 2012. 
  9. ^ Barnett, M.; Coleman, L. (2005). "Designing Police: Interpol and the Study of Change in International Organizations". International Studies Quarterly 49 (4): 593. doi:10.1111/j.1468-2478.2005.00380.x.  edit
  10. ^ "Ex-S Africa police chief convicted". Al Jazeera. 2 July 2010. Retrieved 30 November 2010. 
  11. ^ Craig Timberg (13 January 2008). "S. African Chief of Police Put On Leave". The Washington Post (Rustenburg). Retrieved 9 July 2013. 
  12. ^ "Interpol President Jackie Selebi resigns from post". Lyon: Interpol. 13 January 2008. Retrieved 30 January 2011. 
  13. ^ "France’s Ballestrazzi becomes first female President of INTERPOL". Rome: Interpol. 8 November 2012. Retrieved 8 November 2012. 
  14. ^ "ICPO-Interpol Constitution and General Regulations". Interpol. Retrieved 18 December 2010. 
  15. ^ "INTERPOL issues its first ever passports". Singapore: Interpol. 13 October 2009. Retrieved 9 July 2013. 
  16. ^ "Appointment of Interpol External Auditor". Cancún: Interpol. 8 October 2004. Retrieved 18 December 2010. 
  17. ^ "Questions and Answers". Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Retrieved 4 March 2010. 
  18. ^ "Financial Statements for the year ended 31 December 2011". Interpol. 25 May 2012. Retrieved 9 July 2013. 
  19. ^ "Audit assignments and secondments". Riksrevisjonen - Office of the Auditor General of Norway. Retrieved 1 July 2013. 
  20. ^ Ricardo Sandoval Palos (20 July 2011). "Interpol reacts to ICIJ story". International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. Center for Public Integrity. Retrieved 11 April 2013. 
  21. ^ "Saudi detained in Malaysia for insulting Prophet tweet". BBC News Online. BBC News. 10 February 2012. Retrieved 12 February 2012. 
  22. ^ a b Owen Bowcott (10 February 2012). "Interpol accused after Malaysia arrests journalist over Muhammad tweet". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 12 February 2012. 
  23. ^ "No immigration report of deportation". Lawyers for Liberty. 14 February 2012. Archived from the original on 14 February 2012. Retrieved 21 August 2013. 
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^ "Command & Coordination Centre". Interpol. Retrieved 9 July 2013. 
  31. ^ "Order on Interpol Work Inside U.S. Irks Conservatives". The New York Times (New York). 30 December 2009. 
  32. ^ "Official opening of INTERPOL's office of its Special Representative to the European Union marks milestone in co-operation". Brussels: Interpol. 25 September 2009. Retrieved 9 July 2013. 
  33. ^ "S'pore, Interpol reaffirm excellent partnership". Channel NewsAsia. Singapore: MediaCorp. 22 May 2013. Retrieved 9 July 2013. 

External links[edit]