INTERPOL has released international guidelines in order to enhance the safety and effectiveness of law enforcement and first responder support in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Shaped in accordance with international best practices and the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommendations, the guidelines provide information on how officers can protect themselves and their families, and outline the various roles carried out by law enforcement during a pandemic. These include:
- Border control and maintaining public order
- Assisting national health authorities in identifying cases and their origin
- Relaying public health measures to the population
- Securing deliveries of medical equipment or transfers of patients
The rapid spread of the virus worldwide, and uncertainties as to its evolution, demand a global response. Here, law enforcement plays a crucial role, by contributing to the effort to control the disease, promoting safer communities, and fighting criminals who see the outbreak as an opportunity to increase – or diversify – their activities.
Accordingly the guidelines warn of emerging crimes linked to pandemic, including intimidation and deliberate dissemination attempts, fraud or phishing, cybercrime, and counterfeiting.
With police routinely running into dangerous situations to protect their communities, the guidelines are intended to be considered by law enforcement agencies as part of a response strategy to the outbreak in line with recommendations by national public health authorities. Their purpose is to supplement rather than replace national guidelines.
All measures taken by national law enforcement authorities should therefore conform with the applicable national legislation and international obligations.
INTERPOL Secretary General Jürgen Stock said all levels of law enforcement were being mobilized during this sensitive time.
“I have been speaking with police chiefs around the world who, along with their officers, are facing enormous pressure because of COVID-19,” said Secretary General Stock.
“To help them in their work, these guidelines outline both the current and emerging crime threats linked to this pandemic as well as advice on how officers should protect themselves, and the communities they serve.
“We are in this together, and INTERPOL will continue to provide whatever assistance our 194 member countries need,” added the INTERPOL Chief.
INTERPOLʼs secure global communications network I-24/7 ensures vital policing information continues to get to where it is needed. Its specialist crime units will share the latest trends and threats related to COVID-19, with its Command and Coordination Centre ensuring calls for assistance are answered.