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Interpol gathers regional policing body leaders to discuss COVID-19 security challenges

27 May 2020

LEADERS OF the world’s regional policing organisations recently joined forces in a virtual meeting hosted by Interpol to address the challenges posed to global policing by COVID-19 and reaffirm the importance of multilateral co-operation during times of emergency.

The fourth edition of the ‘Interpol Dialogue on an Effective Multilateral Policing Architecture Against Global Threats’ saw fruitful discussions among the participating organisations on how COVID-19 is affecting the security landscape. Those who took part in the 20 May event included AFRIPOL, Ameripol, the Arab Interior Ministers’ Council, ASEANAPOL, the Economic Co-operation Organisation, Europol, Frontex (the European Border and Coast Guard Agency), the Gulf Co-operation Council-POL and, of course, Interpol itself.

The Shanghai Co-operation Organisation and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime also took part in the meeting as observers.

A global threat assessment issued by Interpol back in April outlined the ‘crime lifecycle’ linked to COVID-19, as well as Best Practice and measures designed to mitigate the effects of these crimes, which were discussed during the virtual ‘dialogue’ meeting.

While cyber crime and cyber-enabled crimes have received widespread attention, the pandemic has also been exploited by terrorists and organised crime groups.

With mafia organisations already invested in essential activities such as the agro-food sector, road transport, cleaning services and waste disposal, the increased likelihood of their further infiltrating the legitimate economy is a significant threat.

What happens post-vaccine?

In addition, when life-saving products or a vaccine are available, demand will soar resulting in a parallel increase in theft and counterfeiting of these important medicines.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated there is a clear nexus between global heath and global security,” said Interpol Secretary General Jürgen Stock. “The need for law enforcement co-operation to keep pace with these evolving and unexpected threats has never been greater. Through efforts such as the ‘dialogue’ meeting which promote knowledge exchange and continuous discourse on a global level, we can present a united front against the changing security landscape,”

Due to the inherent cross-border nature of the changing criminal threats arising from the virus outbreak and related control measures, the participants reaffirmed the importance of multilateral law enforcement co-operation as being critical in times of emergency.

A joint declaration endorsed by the participating organisations sets out a roadmap for co-ordinating the exchange of information on COVID-19 related threats and the strategic and operational challenges posed by the virus outbreak. Opportunities for enhanced collaboration following the end of the outbreak were also defined.