'Interpol needs more money'
Marrakech - Funding for Interpol must be increased dramatically for the global police body to meet the threat posed by international terrorism, Interpol's Secretary General said on Thursday.
Ronald Noble said: "The case we're working on is that of a suspected terrorist carrying a biological or nuclear weapon intending to kill hundreds of thousands if not millions.
"In order to prepare against that possibility, we need a billion dollar a year organisation and not a million dollar a year organisation," he added at the end of Interpol's four-day annual conference.
Interpol operated at a deficit last year with its expenditures of €46.7m exceeding its budget of €45.1m. The organisation has a €44.5m budget for 2007.
The global police body is financed by its 186 member states whose governments pay annual contributions calculated using a framework agreed on by members.
Since the September 11 2001 attacks against the United States, Interpol has increasingly been called upon to offer operational support to police forces in member states in the fight against terrorism, so more money is needed to do the job properly, Noble said.
'We're going to be well behind'
The number of names of suspected terrorists in Interpol's database jumped to 12 000 from around 2 000 after the attacks and member states' police forces are now for the first time connected to the same communications system, but much more needs to be done, he added.
"Until every police force in the world is able to share information as quickly as Mastercard or Visa or American Express, until every passport is checked at every border, we are going to be well behind where we should be," he said.
Only 17 out of Interpol's 186 member countries systematically check the passport numbers of incoming travellers against the agency's global stolen and lost travel documents database which has over 15 million entries.
Interpol decided at the general assembly to set up a working group to study and submit recommendations regarding the development of a new financial contribution scale.
A total of 541 officials from 79 different countries worked for Interpol at its headquarters in France as well as its regional bureaus and its office at the United Nations at the end of 2006.
More than 4 200 people wanted by Interpol in 2006 were arrested worldwide, up 20% since 2005.