One hundred years ago the foundations of INTERPOL are laid


INTERPOL’s 91st General Assembly took place in Vienna from 28th November to 1st December 2023 and marked the organization’s 100th anniversary.

The idea of INTERPOL was born in Monaco at the first International Criminal Police Congress (14 to 18 April 1914). Officials from 24 countries discussed cooperation on solving crimes, identification techniques and extradition.

After the First World War, the idea of an international police body was revived by Johannes Schober, President of the Vienna Police. The International Criminal Police Commission (ICPC), the predecessor of INTERPOL, was established in September 1923 with headquarters in Vienna and with 20 founding members. It was created during the 2nd International Police Congress in Vienna in 1923. Wanted persons notices were first published in the International Public Safety Journal

The overall aim of the ICPC was to provide mutual assistance between police in different countries. Its structure and aims were documented in a series of Resolutions (available to download in the Related Documents below, in German and French). Among the main themes were: Direct police contact; Cooperation on arrests and extradition; Common languages; Creation of offices for counterfeit currency, cheques and passports; Fingerprinting techniques and records. These principles are still relevant today and continue to feature among INTERPOL’s activities.

Portugal joined the ICPC in 1924, and today remains as one of 196 INTERPOL membership countries.

Moving forward, the 4th General Assembly in Amsterdam adopted a Resolution that each member country should establish a central point of contact within its police structure. This was the forerunner of today’s National Central Bureaux (NCBs)

By 1930, specialized departments were established to deal with criminal records, currency counterfeiting and passport forgery. Data was compiled and analysed manually until the 1980s, when computerization of our records began.

In 1956, The ICPC became the International Criminal Police Organization (ICPO-INTERPOL) with the adoption of a modernized constitution. The Organization became autonomous by collecting dues from member countries and relying on financial investments. Interpol launched its international radio network, providing an independent telecommunications system solely for the use of the criminal police authorities. By 1966, 34 countries had stations and its network carried more than 90,000 messages per year

Until the 1980s when computerization began, INTERPOL’s records were kept on paper, and data was compiled and analysed manually using card index files. Today, INTERPOL provides member countries with instant, direct access to a range of criminal databases containing millions of records. These include information on names of criminals, stolen travel documents, works of art and vehicles, firearms, biometrics and child sexual exploitation images. The response time for a database query is less than a second.