An Interpol Major Events Support Team (IMEST) has been deployed to Paris as part of the world policing body’s support to the security framework currently surrounding the UEFA Euro 2016 football tournament in France.
With the potential for criminals to enter the host nation using falsified, stolen or lost passports in order to conceal their identities, the IMEST will facilitate checks on individuals against Interpol’s global databases in a bid to identify foreign terrorist fighters, stolen and lost travel documents, fingerprints and internationally ‘Wanted’ individuals.
In addition to the team based at the Centre for International Police Co-operation in Paris, Interpol’s 24-hour Command and Co-ordination Centre and other specialist units are on standby to provide any additional assistance required to reach out to its 190 member countries in urgent situations, or in relation to terrorism and organised crime issues such as human trafficking.
“With more than two million fans expected from around the world, this is an international event bringing with it all the associated threats and security issues,” said Interpol’s Secretary General Jürgen Stock, who also underlined the need for continued vigilance.
“It’s vital that police have the information they require to ensure that anyone entering the country, or who is arrested, is who they claim to be. Tied to this is the need for countries to share information they may have on suspected individuals and potential attacks.”
Stock added: “The preparations put in place by France are extremely thorough, but security at an event such as this is most certainly a global responsibility requiring close co-operation between law enforcement worldwide.”
Vigilance at border control points
With increased concerns over weapons being smuggled into Europe from the Balkans for use in terrorist attacks, Stock stated that Interpol is also encouraging member countries to be extra vigilant at border controls beyond the European Union.
In just one 48-hour period alone, an Interpol-co-ordinated operation in the Western Balkans last April led to the seizure of 40 firearms, six kg of explosives, 11 hand grenades and 1,300 pieces of ammunition.
Interpol has previously provided internationally co-ordinated support for major events around the world, including the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games and the 2015 APEC Summit. The organisation will also be deploying an IMEST for the Rio 2016 Olympics.
In 2012, Interpol established Project Stadia to create a Centre of Excellence and develop Best Practice guides to help Interpol member countries in planning and executing physical and cyber security preparations for major sporting events. Funded by Qatar, Project Stadia also conducts observation and debriefing programmes with security officials from both the public and private sectors, and is presently developing a state-of-the-art, web-based knowledge management system which all member countries can contribute to and benefit from going forward.
CPS prosecutors on call
A specialist team of Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) prosecutors is on call during Euro 2016. They will act as a point of contact to the UK Football Policing Unit (UKFPU) and assist them in seeking a Civil Football Banning Order against individuals in appropriate cases.
Ahead of Euro 2016, the CPS has worked with the UKFPU and Foreign and Commonwealth Office colleagues to ensure that arrangements are in place for the French courts to deal with appropriate cases. The CPS has also worked with Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunal Service colleagues to agree the operation of a number of courts throughout England and Wales to deal with Euro 2016 related cases.
220,000 tickets have been sold to British fans for the tournament, with all Euro 2016 matches falling under the provisions of the Football Spectators Act. This means that public order offences and offences of violence that are committed during or following a Euro 2016 match may be considered football related. As such, Football Banning Orders may be applicable.
John Montague, the CPS’ National Lead Football Prosecutor, said: “We want all the fans to enjoy the tournament in safety. Should this safety be compromised in any way by fans from the UK, our prosecutors will be on hand to advise the police on criminal charges and where a Football Banning Order is considered appropriate.”