Interpol, being one of the world’s largest international police organisations, has already been functioning for over half a century. There is hardly an international organisation which has been surrounded by so many myths and mystique as Interpol.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the problem of international crime has become acute. Crime was certainly not a new phenomenon, however, it was at that period of time that it became particularly large-scale. Various types of swindlers, thieves and robbers, hiding from criminal prosecution, travelled across state borders of one state or another and thus were rarely tracked and prosecuted for their crimes. This perception of an impunity was leading the growth of crime rates and geographical spread of crime.

All these factors prompted countries to set up an international police organisation.

In 1914 police officers worldwide received the invitation of Prince Albert I of Monaco to convene in the first International Criminal Police Congress. The invitation of the Monarch, who was known to be a dedicated oceanographer, came as a great surprise to all. Heads of police were even more surprised when, on their arrival to Monaco, they were introduced to an excellent plan for combating international crime as well as the draft plan for its implementation. The outbreak of the Fist World War, however, interrupted this project and the meeting did not yield substantial results, nevertheless this congress marked the onset of Interpol’s history.

After the war was over, countries again encountered the old problem, i.e. international crime, which immensely increased; therefore they came back, even more enthusiastically, to the idea of creating an international police organisation. This time, Austria was the initiator of the meeting. Vienna Congress brought together 138 representatives from 20 countries, including the USA, Egypt, China and Japan.

On 7 September 1923 the Congress established the standing International Criminal Police Commission (hereafter referred to as: “ICPC”) and adopted its statute. The principal objective of the Commission was to ensure and promote mutual assistance between all law enforcement authorities within the limits of applicable laws in the different countries and to take care of the establishment and successful operation of all institutions likely to contribute to the suppression of crime.

As time went by, the competence of the organisation was expanding, the status and relationship with other international organisations was changing and the very name of the organisation no longer matched its status. Consequently, in 1956 the decision was taken, as part of a regular session, to change the name of the ICPC into the International Criminal Police Organisation.

The word “Interpol” used as the Commission’s telegraphic address since 1947, later became common in press but it was not until 1956 that this name was officially approved as a contraction of the organisation’s name. Interpol’s emblem and the flag were also adopted at that time.

Today Interpol is a modern international organisation uniting 190 countries around the globe. Pre-war Lithuania was the third country in the world (after Germany and Denmark) to recognise Interpol. Petras Pamataitis, the head of the Lithuania criminal police at that time, represented Lithuania in the International Criminal Police Organisation in the period between 1934 and 1940, and was appointed its Vice-president as of 1935. The wartime occupation of Lithuania interrupted our country’s representation in ICPO-Interpol but Lithuania renewed its membership in 1991, becoming the 158th member in this Organisation.

The General Secretariat of Interpol is based in Lyon, France. Approximately 800 staff members are currently working for Interpol.

The Interpol National Central Bureau for Lithuania was set up on 30 November 1991. As of 1 September 2001 it became a constituent part of the Lithuanian Criminal Police Bureau. It was later renamed and is now called the Europol and Interpol National Unit.

Although the Interpol network entails 190 member countries, forwarding or making enquiries to/from any country has nowadays become an easy task. The Europol and Interpol National Unit for Lithuania has connected to the 24/7 global police communications system which is an online system enabling its users to exchange/verify information (on stolen vehicles, wanted /undesirable / missing individuals, stolen documents and their forms, stolen / counterfeit payment cards, DNA profiles / fingerprints) in criminal databases of the General Secretariat.

Interpol primarily aims to ensure and promote, within the limits of the applicable national law, cooperative relationship among criminal police forces of different countries. Thanks to such cooperation, a great number of different offences are investigated, including violent crimes against individuals, property and economic crimes, organised crime and terrorism-related crime, trafficking in firearms and explosives, drug trafficking, money laundering, trafficking in human beings and exploitation in pornography industry, crimes against aviation security, money counterfeiting and other offences.


Last updated: 05-12-2017