The word 'INTERPOL' is radio-telegraph code for the International Criminal Police Organization which consists of 194 member countries who have agreed to "ensure and promote the widest possible assistance between all criminal police authorities in the prevention and suppression of ordinary law crimes". The Organization's headquarters is in Lyon, France.
The INTERPOL organisation now incorporates 194 member countries, an intergovernmental organisation second in size only to the United Nations, where INTERPOL also has observer status. International police co-operation has become increasingly complex: differing legal systems, definitions of crimes, rules for evidence, varying responsibilities between law enforcement and judicial services, incompatible extradition laws, incompatible information systems, restrictions on sharing information. These are just a few of the barriers INTERPOL strives to help the world overcome in the fight against ever higher levels of international crime.
One thing it does not have is the INTERPOL agents or detectives who travel the world over, chasing spies, murderers, etc. and conducting investigations in different countries. The I.C.P.O.-INTERPOL in fact, is an international police organization to extend co-operation for co-ordinated action on the part of member countries and their police forces which may furnish or request for information or services for combating - international crime.
The development of increasingly sophisticated facilities for rapid travel has made it far easier for criminals to move around the world. At the same time, the complex structures of modern societies and the constant growth of international exchanges provide more and more opportunities for international criminal activity, which has now reached alarming proportions.
But the term "international crime", although in common use, does not necessarily refer to a specific category of offence defined in law.
Some offences are covered by international conventions, for instance currency counterfeiting (1929 Convention), traffic in human beings and the exploitation of prostitution ( 1949 Convention) and drug trafficking ( 1988 Convention).
Other offences, however, can be classified as "international" because of the behaviour of the offenders. For instance, preparations for committing an offence may be made in one country while the actual offence is committed in one or more other countries. To take another example, similar offences may be committed one after the other in several different countries. Finally, an offender may escape across a border after committing his offence, he may transfer his illicit gains abroad, or he may conceal objects or documents used to commit the offence in another country.
Tracing and arresting such offenders may prove extremely difficult; problems can arise in connection with exchanging information, identification, international investigations and subsequent extradition. Because of these problems, police departments in different countries must work together if they are to combat international crime successfully.
The principles and procedures governing international police co-operation have grown up gradually over the years to form the present INTERPOL system.
1914 During the First International Criminal Police Congress held in Monaco from14th to 18th April, legal experts and police officers from 14 different countries and territories studied the possibility of establishing an international criminal records office and of harmonising extradition procedures.
The outbreak of the First World War prevented any further progress.
1923 The Second International Police Congress met in Vienna, Austria, and set up the International Criminal Police Commission (I.C.P.C.) with its own Statutes, and official Headquarters in Vienna. The I.C.P.C. operated satisfactorily until the out break of the Second World War but was essentially a European organization.
1946 After the Second World War, a conference was held in Brussels to revive the I.C.P.C. and the whole concept of international police co-operation. New Statutes were adopted and the Commission's Headquarters moved to Paris.
"INTERPOL" was chosen as the telegraphic address of the Headquarters.
1956 The I.C.P.C. became the International Criminal Police Organization-INTERPOL , abbreviated to ICPO-INTERPOL.
1966 The ICPO-INTERPOL General Secretariat moved into its present headquarters building in Saint Cloud, outside Paris.
1973 The organization celebrated its fiftieth anniversary at its birth place, Vienna.
1984 The new Headquarters Agreement signed with the French Government came into force.
1989 On 27th November, the Organisation's new Headquarters building in Lyons was officially inaugurated.
2003 Sh. P.C.Sharma, the then Director/ CBI and Head of NCB- India was elected as Vice- President for Asia for the period 2003- 2006
2008 The number of member States reached 188.
2018 The number of member states reached 194.
Purpose of INTERPOL
Under Article 2 of the Organization's Constitution, INTERPOL's aims are:
"(a) 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.
b) To establish and develop all institutions likely to contribute effectively to the prevention and suppression of ordinary law crimes."
The limits of its operation are laid down in Article 3:
"It is strictly forbidden for the Organization to undertake any intervention or activities of a political, military, religious or racial character."
According to the interpretation given to Article 3, a political offence is one which is considered to be of a predominantly political nature because of the surrounding circumstances and underlying motives, even if the offence itself is covered by the ordinary criminal law in the country in which it was committed. This interpretation, based on the predominant aspects of the offence, is embodied in a resolution adopted by INTERPOL's General Assembly in 1951.
In addition, a resolution adopted in 1984 states that, in general, offences are not considered to be political when they are committed outside a "conflict area" and when the victims are not connected with the aims or objectives pursued by the offenders.
International police co-operation within the ICPO-INTERPOL has always been conducted in accordance with the guiding principles listed below:
a) Respect for national sovereignty.
Co-operation is based on the actions taken by the police forces in the various member States, operating within their own national boundaries and in accordance with their own national laws.
b) Enforcement of ordinary criminal law.
The Organization's field of activities is limited to crime prevention and law enforcement in connection with ordinary criminal offences. This is the only basis on which there can be agreement between all member states.
Any member state may cooperate with any other and co-operation must not be impeded by geographical or linguistic factors.
d) Equality of all Members States.
All the member states are provided with the same services and have the same rights, irrespective of the size of their financial contributions to the Organization.
e) Co-operation with other agencies
Co-operation is extended through the National Central Bureaus to any Government agency concerned with combating ordinary criminal offences.
f) Flexibility of working methods.
Although governed by principles designed to ensure regularity and continuity, working methods are flexible enough to take account of the wide variety of structures and situations in different countries.
Respect for these principles means that INTERPOL cannot have teams of detectives with supranational powers who travel around investigating cases in different countries. International Police cooperation has to depend on co-ordinated action on the part of the member States' police forces, all of which may supply or request information or services on different occasions.
Antigua & Barbuda
Central African Republic
Congo (Democratic Republic)
Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
Korea (Republic of)
Papua New Guinea
St. Kitts & Nevis
St. Vincent & the Grenadines
Sao Tome & Principe
Timor - Leste
Trinidad & Tobago
United Arab Emirates
Vatican City State
U.K. Sub Bureaus
British Virgin Islands
Turks & Caicos
U.S. Sub Bureaus
China Sub Bureaus