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Inside Interpol

What is Interpol and how does it function? And, in this age of accountability and transparency, how long can it withstand demands for change?

Interpol is the world's biggest and most powerful international policing organisation. Spanning almost every existing country - with the notable exception of North Korea - it carries out vital work in combatting worldwide organised crime. Increasingly important in our globalised era, but lacking in accountability and surrounded with an aura of mystery, it has to cope with new scrutiny.

Its imposing headquarters in Lyon, France, is home to more than 700 staff, who combine intelligence from 190 countries in an effort to make the world a safer place. They seek to meet the challenges of terrorism, cybercrime, people trafficking and counterfeiting. At the same time the organisation faces major financial problems and complaints about its relations with certain repressive governments and large multinational corporations.

So what exactly is Interpol? How does it function? In this age of accountability and transparency, how long can it withstand demands for change? Jake Wallis Simons investigates.

(Photo: Interpol logo printed on the floor of the lobby of its headquarters in Lyon, France. Credit: Jean-Philippe Ksiazek/AFP/Getty Images)

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