Since the outbreak of COVID-19, law enforcement has played a crucial role in supporting efforts to control the disease as well as combating criminal activities linked to the pandemic.
Consequently, INTERPOL has updated its guidelines for law enforcement, which draw on the lessons learned and best practices developed around the world to help police identify and address crimes impacted by COVID-19, including domestic violence, child abuse and cybercrime.
The pandemic has provided an opportunity for criminals to make fast cash as they take advantage of the high demand for personal protective equipment.
Operations coordinated by INTERPOL, such as Pangea XIII and Qanoon, targeting the illicit online sale of medicines have shown the continued trend in the dangerous trafficking of medical products related to COVID-19.
In addition, as legitimate vaccines move closer to delivery, the targeting of storage facilities and distribution networks by criminal networks can also be expected, and the updated guidelines highlight the need for secure storage and delivery of supplies.
“High demand combined with a limited supply will make COVID-19 vaccines the equivalent of liquid gold to organized crime networks as soon as one is available.”
Jürgen Stock, INTERPOL Secretary General, said it is essential for action to be taken now, to both protect the legitimate supply chain for when the vaccine is ready, and to prevent the production and distribution of fake COVID-19 vaccines.
“As the global COVID-19 situation continues to evolve, so must the law enforcement response and these updated guidelines provide a useful reference document for frontline officers to protect themselves and the communities they serve,” concluded Secretary General Stock.
The guidelines also include recommendations in relation to deliberate contamination spread, public order, fraud and money laundering and should be considered in accordance with applicable human rights standards, national legislation, policing best practices and in coordination with national public health authorities.
It is the latest in a series of documents published by INTERPOL to assist law enforcement in dealing with COVID-19 related crimes, including assessment reports on migrant smuggling and human trafficking, cybercrime and child sexual abuse.