NEW DELHI: Interpol traces its history to 1914, when a congress of international criminal police, attended by delegates from 14 countries, was held in Monaco. In 1923, following a significant increase in international crime that particularly affected Austria, representatives of the criminal police forces of 20 countries met in Vienna and formed the International Criminal Police Commission (ICPC).
The ICPC’s headquarters were established in Vienna, and the head of the Vienna Police Johann Schober became the organisation’s first President. The ICPC flourished until 1938, when Nazi Germany annexed Austria; the ICPC’s records were subsequently relocated to Berlin. In 1956, the ICPC became the International Criminal Police Organisation (ICPO-INTERPOL) with the adoption of a modernised constitution. The organisation became autonomous by collecting dues from member countries and relying on financial investments.
Interpol concentrates on three broad categories of international criminal activity: terrorism and crimes against people and property, including crimes against children, trafficking in human beings, illegal immigration, automobile theft, and art theft; economic, financial, and computer crimes, including banking fraud, money laundering, corruption, and counterfeiting; and illegal drugs and criminal organisations, including organised crime.
Interpol relies on an extensive telecommunications system and a unique database of international police intelligence. In contrast to the image occasionally conveyed on television and in the movies, Interpol agents do not make arrests. Instead, the organisation, at the request of NCBs, sends out ‘red notices’, based on warrants issued by member countries, calling for the arrest and extradition of specific individuals.
Interpol also issues other ‘coloured’ notices: yellow to help locate missing persons, blue to collect information on illegal activities or on an individual’s identity, black to request information needed to identify a body, green to warn agencies about criminals from one country who may commit additional offences in other countries, and orange to warn law-enforcement agencies of dangers from bombs and other weapons.