In 1923, in Vienna, Switzerland, the International Criminal Police Commission, the ICPC, was created by police authorities during the International Criminal Police Congress of that year. Prior to its creation, there had been a few attempts at building a cooperative force between nations regarding criminal law enforcement.
Interpol’s main headquarters are today housed in Lyon, France. But its headquarters have moved more than once since it’s inception, however, with the first being when the Nazi’s wrested control of the organization in 1938 and moved it to Berlin in 1942.
The idea of utilizing international police cooperation efforts to put an end to black market activities, white collar crimes, and mob activity had been overtaken by a consortium that used the power of central intelligence for detaining political opposition.
Many countries withdrew their support during this time and it wasn’t until the end of WWII that the International Criminal Police Organization, ICPO, was brought back to life with a renewed sense of purpose.
Creating a new office in Saint-Cloud, outside of Paris, the ICPO began to reorganize and bring in new members. Its mission hadn’t changed though, and being a liaison for international police cooperation was still the number one priority.
Focusing on a number of criminal activities ranging from crimes against humanity to copyright infringement, Interpol became popular with police forces from all over the world. Today there are a total of 192 member countries, which are also the main benefactors for funding of the Interpol system.
An increase in funding has allowed for an expansion of operations for the long-standing organization. Interpol officially opened the ICGI, or Interpol Global Complex for Innovation, in 2015, but admitted that the program had been running long before the public launch.
Interpol serves not only as an international database and liaison between different nations acting police forces but also as a means of managing crime scenes that can fall under many different jurisdictions at once.
Teams, called IRT’s or Incident Response Teams, can be dispatched in the case of terrorist attacks or international disasters, assisting with victim identification, database support, and suspect identification. These IRT’s even have the capability of acting as a ‘central command’ of sorts, at the request of local law enforcement authorities, to manage and coordinate several law enforcement agencies simultaneously.
Coming in with a $15 million dollar plus budget a year, and only 756 employees, Interpol has certainly shown its ability to be that one-stop-shop for international crime fighting.
While Interpol’s aim is to be as neutral as possible in its contributions to stopping crime. It’s own charter rules state: “It is strictly forbidden for the Organization to undertake any intervention or activities of a political, military, religious or racial character.”
But Interpol does assert itself in political matters, at some peril to their operating procedures. Red cards are given out at a much more frequent rate in recent years and some orders are coming from countries that use the system as a means of oppression, wreaking havoc on the refugee system.