The agreement, which was jointly signed by Interpol Secretary General Ronald K. Noble and Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir John Stevens, will result in closer collaboration between the two organizations in a number of areas.

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Police in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />London will now be able to use Interpol’s global communications system, I-24/7, which is a high security system using the Internet as a ‘tunnel’ for encrypted data. It enables users to access Interpol’s databases including those on fingerprints, DNA, stolen travel documents and terrorist intelligence stored at the General Secretariat in Lyon, France.

After any hits on enquiries by the Metropolitan Police, officers would then contact the Interpol National Central Bureau in London for an international follow-up. The memorandum of understanding is also aimed at assisting officers in the investigation of paedophile activity, and developing an intellectual property rights partnership to tackle crimes such as copyright and identity theft.

“This agreement is another example of how Interpol is doing everything it can to ensure that vital information reaches the officer on the street as quickly as possible” said Secretary General Ronald K. Noble. “Access to I-24/7 and Interpol’s databases is aimed at helping the Metropolitan Police to protect people in London by not only assisting in delivering intelligence on terrorist threats, but also information from around the world on a variety of crimes such as child abuse, counterfeiting and drugs trafficking.”

Commissioner Sir John Stevens said: “We believe this initiative will build on the Met’s growing capacity to deal with the threats posed to London by international crime and terrorism, particularly in relation to their impact on vulnerable communities.”

The London Metropolitan police are the first metropolitan force in Europe to be connected directly to the I-24/7 communications system. The New York Police Department was the first in Interpol’s Americas region following the launch of a pilot project in November 2003, and talks are now ongoing with Shanghai police to become the first to connect in Asia.