Blue Line

Real-time law enforcement

December 2, 2011  By Angela White

The increase in information sharing between police organizations over the past decade has facilitated a number of developments in the world of law enforcement. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police made great strides in this regard with the advent of the INTERPOL-CPIC Interface. The simplicity of the application and its far reaching ramifications make it a tool that every Canadian police service should be utilizing. 

In June 2009, Canada became one of the first countries to give their front line police officers access to INTERPOL’s immense international criminal databases through the addition of the INTERPOL-CPIC Interface to the existing CPIC database. The Interface is available to all police and law enforcement agencies in Canada. It is the result of two years of partnership between INTERPOL and the RCMP. 

The successes brought about with the execution of this Interface were immediately apparent. In the first two months after the initial launch alone nearly 50,000 queries were done. In fact, within only a day of operation, a query was made at the Toronto Pearson International Airport of a Swedish national travelling from Brazil. This lead to a hit on the INTERPOL-CPIC Interface as the individual was wanted in Sweden for tax evasion. 

In another instance, Passport Canada queried the INTERPOL-CPIC Interface in relation to an individual who was the subject of a diffusion, or an international circulation of information that is issued from INTERPOL prior to a Notice or wanted flier. This particular diffusion was sent out by INTERPOL Washington as the subject was suspected of terrorism related activities. Further investigation and liaison with INTERPOL Washington resulted in Passport Canada revoking the individual’s passport.

More recently, during an investigation initiated by the arrival of the MV Sun Sea migrant smuggling ship off the coast of British Columbia in 2010, one of the illegal migrants on board was found to be subject of a Notice issued by INTERPOL Wellington (New-Zealand). When a CBSA officer queried the INTERPOL-CPIC Interface it was determined that the subject was suspected of fraud and terrorism related activities.

Prior to the advent of the new INTERPOL-CPIC Interface, these successes would never have been achieved. Manually having to enter the data meant that days or weeks were required to process files causing a nine month lapse in data entry. The data in the old system was not necessarily complete and it only allowed access to the INTERPOL Red Notices. 

The real-time capabilities of the new query tool have allowed for increased investigating possibilities for Canadian law enforcement agencies. The vast information in INTERPOL databases allows Canadian officials making use of the tool to search for fugitives, persons of interest and lost or stolen travel documents. Since the INTERPOL-CPIC Interface was launched there have been more than 463,000 queries done resulting in; passport seizures, persons being denied entry into Canada and persons referred to immigration for assessment.

With one simple search, Canadian police officers have access to INTERPOL’s databases which include approximately 165,000 names of wanted international fugitives, and information on more than 30 million stolen or lost travel documents, of which over 15 million are passports. Every instance of a positive “hit” sends an electronic alert notification to the member country of potential matches. This initiative will not only improve officer safety, since quick responses to a query will signal whether there would be a need to investigate a subject further; it will also improve investigations throughout Canada by allowing access in real-time to information from INTERPOL’s 190 member countries. 

INTERPOL Ottawa’s employees have been hard at work assuring that all Canadian law enforcement agencies are utilizing the INTERPOL-CPIC Interface. There are 65,000 police officers in Canada and there were 85,000 queries conducted in 2010. By the end of 2011, a vast majority of Canada’s police forces will have upgraded their query mechanism to have access to the INTERPOL-CPIC Interface. The hope is that eventually every law enforcement and security agency in Canada will be using the INTERPOL-CPIC Interface. 

INTERPOL Ottawa is the initial point of contact for all Canadian Law enforcement agencies. It provides support to ongoing international fugitive investigations and is the primary link between law enforcement agencies in Canada and around the world. The work that INTERPOL-Ottawa has contributed through the INTERPOL-CPIC Interface is yet another example of how Canada is a well-established leader in the realm of international policing.

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