INTERPOL - from Vienna to Canberra


tags: INTERPOL, AFP, Australia,

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The evolution of Australia's relationship with INTERPOL (1923 - 1975)
By Adam Masters
APJ Issue - June 2011: pp. 58 - 67.

For many people, police included, INTERPOL is an enigma, mentioned on police television shows or in sensationalised media reports. Behind the headline mystique, INTERPOL is the world’s largest international police organisation, currently with 188 member countries. It is unique in that it does not have any police powers of its own, rather it supports and facilitates policing throughout the globe.

In each member country, a National Central Bureau (NCB) operates, processing requests and providing information to fellow member nations. In Australia alone, the NCB based within the Australian Federal Police’s headquarters in Canberra, processes around 30,000 messages per year.

NCBs and their staff provide an unmatched degree of secure communications and law enforcement intelligence sharing on a global scale. One of the strengths of the INTERPOL network is that it can help international police cooperation, even when diplomatic relations do not exist between particular nations. INTERPOL also provides training and other operational support where required and requested.

In two parts, this artice examines INTERPOL’s historical development and then explains the relationship with Australia – or more precisely, how Australia responded to INTERPOL, particularly before 1975. The evolution of relations reflects Australia's broader national development, particularly with regards to the nation seperating itself from British dominance, and then with the national government gradually assuming dominance over the states with regards to dealing with international bodies.

The history of Australia's relationship with INTERPOL has, until now, remained mostly hidden in archives and police libraries.

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