A Comprehensive Public Security System in Buenos Aires

361.- baixaSince 2017, the city of Buenos Aires has been operating its Comprehensive Public Security System. The exhaustive plan covers a range of initiatives, including training for the new City Police Force, improving social integration, citizen participation, etc.

The Comprehensive Public Security System coordinates more than 32,000 agents who operate in a unified way from their positions in the City Police, the fire service, emergency departments, the emergency medical care system (SAME), civil protection, etc. Of these 32,000 agents, 24,869 are officers of the City Police, which is the result of a merger between the Metropolitan Police Force and the Argentine Federal Police.

Furthermore, 1,000 civilians were recruited to cover administrative tasks in police stations, a move which allowed the same number of police officers to return to the streets. These police officers work under a new territorial deployment plan, with a system of fixed stops and police patrols based on software that integrates population density, the flow of people and the crime map.

The Comprehensive Public Security System uses innovative technologies across the board:

  • 25,000 mobile phones have been supplied to agents. At the same time, agents are prohibited from using private phones or other devices to avoid distractions.
  • The mobiles are equipped with GPS to geolocate and systematically record the routes travelled by emergency vehicles.
  • A “digital ring” controls 73 of the city’s entry and exit points with cameras that read the license plates of all vehicles entering and leaving the city’s perimeter.
  • Gender violence is addressed with panic buttons and “safe women” wristbands.
  • A comprehensive video surveillance system monitors all the city’s cameras. Currently, there are more than 10,000 cameras installed on the streets and 4,000 within the transport system. Of the cameras installed on the streets, 300 are equipped with facial recognition to identify fugitives from the justice system.
  • Calls are received through a centralised reception system with a dedicated 911 room and a single coordination and control centre.
  • Analytical methods are used to combat crime; the crime map, for example, is used to collect, process and analyse criminal behaviour in the city.
  • Citizens can report crimes through a single reporting system operated through videoconference booths located at all police stations.


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The London Police are using facial recognition in one of the city’s busiest shopping districts

341.- monitoring-camera-city-video-royalty-free-thumbnailJust across from the Microsoft store on London’s Regent Street, and just outside the entrance to the Oxford Circus tube station, the London Police have activated facial recognition technology that uses cameras on top of police vans.

The London Metropolitan Police has insisted the rollout of “live” facial recognition across the British capital aims to reduce serious crime.  But its critics decry its impact on privacy in one of the world’s busiest commercial districts.

The technology is relatively simple: cameras scan the faces in the crowd, and when one matches with one on their list of wanted criminal suspects, the police react instantaneously.

But there is concern over claims the technology may falsely identify people as criminals, especially those from ethnic minorities.

A North American NGO called the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) released a report in which it tested technology from nearly 100 different companies, and found that in most cases empirical evidence showed that age, race and gender affected accuracy. It noted that some could misidentify people in certain groups up to 100 times more frequently than others.

Another human rights organisation, Liberty, also wanted to make its presence in the camera area known by handing out flyers asking passers-by to “resist facial recognition”. They believe the technology is most likely to misidentify women and people from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities. For this reason, they are opposed to the police force’s mass-scanning of all faces in range and the consequent harvesting of personal biometric data without consent.

For their part, the Japanese company that provided the technology, NEC, says the system tries to find matches with a pre-collected gallery of the faces of known criminal suspects. As a result, the live facial recognition technology does not store the faces of people who do not appear on any database.

Furthermore, the faces of those who aren’t on watch lists are blurred out in the footage viewed by officers and are not stored on police computers. According to police sources, the cameras will only be used at specific locations for a limited time.

Despite this, the list of organisations coming out against these police measures continues to grow. The Big Brother Watch organisation believes that never before have London citizens been subjected to identity checks without suspicion, let alone on a mass scale. They argue the technology makes citizens less free and no safer.



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Police strike drives up murder rate in Brazil

340.- Policiais_ocupam_Complexo_do_AlemaoThe now fivefold increase in the numbers of killings in various towns and cities in the north of Brazil has coincided with a strike by police and firefighters in support of pay increases after a six-year pay freeze.

The Federal Government has sent more than 2500 troops as reinforcements and hundreds of police officers have been dismissed for taking part in demonstrations in support of improved financial terms.

Hundreds of masked police officers tightened security in the north-east of Brazil during Carnival festivities, which had to be cancelled. Officers are trying to stop their colleagues from patrolling the streets and are making it difficult for them to move around by booby-trapping the wheels of their vehicles to puncture the tyres.

The decrease in police numbers has been matched by an increase in the number of killings, especially in the state of Cearà. Although the average number of killings was already high with six violent deaths per day so far in 2020, the official figure has increased fivefold with 150 killings last week, according to the Secretariat for Public Security and Community Defence.

Tension on the streets has reached the point where a senator from the left-wing Democratic Labour Party opposed to the police protests, Cid Gomes, suffered gunshot wounds when he tried to use a digger to gain entry to a police station that had been occupied by striking police officers in the city of Sobral.

The response of the Federal Government under President Jair Bolsonaro has been to send 2,500 troops to Cearà to retake the streets. In addition, authorities have dismissed more than 200 officers and have arrested some 40 on charges of desertion.

The protests started in December 2019. Police and firefighters in the state of Cearà demonstrated in front of the Legislative Assembly in the state capital Fortalesa demanding higher wages. Their unhappiness stems from the fact that they have not had any wage increases over the last six years, missing out on being paid salaries nearly 27% higher.

The Secretariat for Public Security and Community Defence in Cearà has explained that there was an investment of 600 million reals – more than $136 million – in security in the period 2015-2018. But the money was not spent on what the police were demanding but on taking on 10,000 more police and training 15,000 soldiers.

At the beginning of February, the government of Cearà agreed to increase pay for police and firefighters in stages to raise their current 3,200 real pay to 4,500. Expressed in dollars, their pay would go up from $750 to $1,025. But the pay increase would be introduced gradually over the period to 2022.

Police and firefighters are not satisfied and have called street demonstrations to express their unhappiness. But since the Brazilian constitution bars the forces of law and order from striking, the protests have been declared illegal by the courts.

That decision has had the opposite effect to the one intended and the police and firefighters have gone on all-out strike. The strike has still not come to an end despite outbreaks of violence and political and judicial pressure.


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Global law enforcement operation to tackle marine pollution

336.- contaminacioA global law enforcement operation involving 61 countries has identified thousands of illicit activities behind marine pollution, as well as hundreds of environmental violations and severe cases of contamination worldwide.

Codenamed 30 Days at Sea 2.0, the operation, which took place towards the end of 2019, gathered more than 200 enforcement authorities worldwide for concerted action across all continents. The European leg of 30 Days at Sea 2.0 was coordinated in cooperation with Europol and Frontex.

As an illustration of the global extent of marine pollution crime, preliminary operational results exposed more than 3,000 offences detected during 17,000 inspections.

The offences – such as illegal discharges at sea, in rivers, or coastal areas – were found to have been committed primarily to avoid the cost of compliance with environmental legislation.

As part of Operation 30 Days at Sea 2.0, Interpol hosted an Operational Command Centre (OCC) in Singapore to focus on the illegal trade in plastic waste, a fundamental threat to marine environment security. The OCC brought key countries together to begin investigations into cases of illegal export or import of plastic waste.

Interpol played the role of coordinating effective global multi-agency action to help countries tackle this serious pollution crime.

Frontex helped monitor and patrol the Mediterranean with its various services, planes and ships taking part in joint maritime operations.

The operation also served to foster new and stronger working partnerships between national agencies in some countries, which in turn boosted operational results and sustainable cooperation mechanisms.

In Nigeria, Interpol’s Central Bureau in Abuja coordinated the action of different authorities through a task force created to conduct inspections into illegal oil refineries, found responsible for severe oil leakages polluting the country’s waterways.

Information exchanged between Malaysia and The Netherlands permitted authorities to identify the source country of seven containers of plastic waste being illegally shipped, from Belgium via Hong Kong, and to initiate their repatriation.

As part of the operation, some countries increased collective commitment to tackling plastic pollution crime through awareness campaigns in addition to actions on the ground.

Ecuador conducted a plastic waste collection campaign in the World Heritage site of the Galapagos Islands, resulting in the removal of more than 600 kg of refuse.

Indonesian authorities launched a public awareness campaign on the operation’s approach, backed up by messages from the police, to combat marine pollution.

For more information about the operations mentioned here, see the Twitter hashtags #PollutionCrime and #30DaysatSea.


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Colombia’s private security sector worth 7 trillion dollars annually

334.- 22186067056_e13205567b_bThe statistics published by Colombia’s National Institute of Legal Medicine and Forensic Science and the National Police attest to the country’s high crime rate. Between July and December of 2019, more than 11,000 homicides and 158,000 thefts were recorded by the two agencies respectively. The high number of offences make private security firms essential for protecting people, well-known locations, businesses and more.

According to figures from Colombia’s Superintendence of Surveillance and Private Security, there are currently 856 private security firms in the country. Companies involved in the industry generate more than 6.7 billion dollars and employ more than 28,000 bodyguards and 297,000 security guards who are responsible for protecting the property or people assigned to them.

The industry’s financial footprint represents 1.6% of Colombia’s GDP and creates 240,000 directly related and 216,000 indirectly related jobs.

Personnel working in the sector include 28,658 bodyguards – of whom 28,190 are male, and 468 are female, 297,133 security guards – of whom 261,046 are male, and 36,087 are female, and lastly 4,456 dog guards – of whom 4,221 are male and 235 are female.

In 2019, there were 1,796 vehicles authorised for private security use. The vehicles are specially adapted to provide the level of protection required by the industry and firms must apply for a permit authorising their usage. That authorisation has various prerequisites, including proving that the lives of the people who use the vehicle are at risk.

International ballistic standards for armoured cars stipulate various levels of vehicle protection. Levels 1, 2 and 3 protect vehicles from the short-range weapons that, according to the National Police, are often used by common criminals.

Some security experts argue that the sector’s increased size is a result of the government’s failure to sufficiently protect its citizens, leaving a sizeable gap for the growth of private-sector security firms.

That said, Colombia does invest heavily in public sector security. The country spends more of its budget on public safety than any of its neighbours.


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Extensive international operation against RAT spyware

ULL ESPIA RATThe operation has taken down the hacking tool which was able to give full remote control of a victim’s computer to cybercriminals. The successful outcome was the result of an international law enforcement operation targeting the sellers and users of the Imminent Monitor Remote Access Trojan (IM-RAT).

The investigation, led by the Australian Federal Police (AFP), with international contributions coordinated by Europol and Eurojust, resulted in an operation involving numerous judicial and law enforcement agencies in Europe, Colombia and Australia.

The coordinated activity of these law enforcement agencies has brought about an end to the availability of this software tool, which was used, as a minimum, in 124 countries and sold to more than 14,500 buyers. IM-RAT can no longer be used by those who bought it.

The investigation began several months ago, but in June 2019, search warrants were executed against IM-RAT developers in Australia and Belgium. An international week of actions took place in November, resulting in the takedown of the Imminent Monitor infrastructure and the arrest of the 13 most prolific users of the RAT. Furthermore, 430 devices were seized during the operation and will now undergo forensic analysis.

This insidious RAT, once installed undetected, gave cybercriminals free rein to control the victim’s machine remotely. Hackers were able to disable anti-virus and anti-malware programmes, carry out commands such as recording keystrokes, steal data and passwords and watch the victims via their webcams, all without the victim’s knowledge.

This RAT was considered a dangerous threat due to its features, ease-of-use and low cost. Anyone with the nefarious inclination to spy on victims or steal personal data could do so for approximately US$25.

The global scope and technical nature of this type of crime mean that effective cooperation and coordination between all the relevant actors are crucial for combating it and overcoming obstacles to investigations.

Victims are believed to be in the thousands, with investigators having already identified evidence of stolen personal details, passwords, private photographs, video footage and data.

The public and businesses can take simple steps to protect themselves from this type of malware, for example:
• Update your software, including anti-virus software.
• Install a good firewall.
• Don’t open suspicious attachments or emails, even if they come from people on your contact list.
• Create strong passwords.


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Major European operation to target e-commerce fraud

HACK-fraud-card-code-royalty-free-thumbnailA joint law enforcement operation supported by 19 countries led to the arrest of 60 fraud suspects. The main aim of the e-Commerce action (eComm 2019) was to target criminal networks suspected of online fraud through coordinated law enforcement actions within the European Union. An awareness-raising campaign followed the operation.

The process was coordinated by Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) and received direct assistance from national law enforcement authorities and the private sector.

E-commerce fraud includes illegal or false transactions made on online platforms, apps, and services provided over the internet. Fraudsters simply use stolen credit card details to make purchases from webshops.

The suspects arrested during the operation, which took place at the beginning of October 2019, were responsible for almost 6,500 fraudulent transactions with compromised credit cards, with an estimated value of more than €5 million.

Europol assisted the competent national authorities during the operations in their respective countries with analytical support and information sharing. In order to protect customers from fraudulent payments and ensure a safe online environment, Europol also collaborated with banks, credit card providers, European retailers and logistics companies.

The investigative measures revealed that individual fraudsters are connected to organised crime groups and are often involved in other types of crime such as phishing, malware attacks, using stolen passports, money laundering, creating fake websites and using online social platforms for fraudulent purposes.

This year has seen an increase in the number of fraudulent purchases of online services, rather than of physical goods: the virtual dimension of this crime makes it very hard to investigate. Fraudulent purchases of entry tickets, subscriptions and rentals are all carried out online and even via apps.

Some investigations showed that fraudulently booked railway tickets (purchased with stolen credit card details) are sold on to third parties who might then use them to commit other crimes and offences.

In this instance, more than 1,000 fraudulent bookings, amounting to a financial loss of around €70,000, were identified. Another modus operandi is to buy vouchers with stolen credit cards and later have them reimbursed to another method of payment.

Websites and social network accounts are often used to create fake online shops or purchase electronic goods. The suspects’ global turnover could be billions of Euros every year. The fraudsters use stolen credit card details, obtained through the darknet, or via malware and phishing attacks, to buy products.

It’s always better to prevent a crime than to have to solve it. The operation was followed by a prevention and awareness-raising campaign entitled #BuySafePaySafe. There are a number of guidelines you can follow to protect yourself from fraud:

  • Make sure the device you use to make online purchases is correctly configured and that the internet connection is secure.
  • Using a card is a safe online payment method so long as you take the same precautions you would with other types of shopping.
  • There are simple warning signs that can help you identify scams. If you are a victim of online fraud, report it to the police. If you have brought the product with a credit or debit card, inform your bank as well.
  • Check your online banking services regularly.


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The United States downgrades El Salvador’s threat level

Traspaso de Mando de la Policía Nacional Civil.The United States has recognised security improvements in El Salvador and downgraded its travel alert for US citizens.

The level 2[1] travel alert that now applies to El Salvador is considered to be a positive step forward and recognises efforts to improve the security situation in the Central American country.

El Salvador’s president, Nayib Bukele, emphasised that no other previous government succeeded in revoking the ‘do not travel’ alert due to the Central American country’s security problems. And, when Bukele was sworn in as president of the country on the 1st of June 2019, there was an average of 9.2 homicides per day. Yet, by August of this year, the homicide rate was already at its lowest since the peace accords of January 1992, at 4.2 violent deaths per day.

In 2018, the United States issued a level 3 alert, recommending that its citizens reconsider travel to El Salvador and take adequate precautionary measures as a result of the country’s security problems. Following the preliminary homicide-reduction results of the Territorial Control Plan, Bukele’s government had already made several requests for US officials to lower the alert level.

The Minister of Tourism, Morena Valdez, said the US’ decision was a historic moment and believes the time has come to attract more tourism by promoting and positioning the country’s attractions, as well as revitalising the economy.

Ricardo Sosa, a criminologist and expert in gang violence, underlined the significance of the American government’s decision to lower the alert after re-evaluating the country’s risk factors. Sosa believes that the rates of all high-impact crimes are falling, particularly incidences of violent homicide. And he’s optimistic that the latest positive trend in crime statistics will make it easier for El Salvador to attract foreign investment.

However, it’s worth mentioning that El Salvador’s president, Nayib Bukele, entered into cooperation pacts with the US to reduce the flow of irregular migration from the Central American country, and, according to the estimates of the North-American authorities, has succeeded in doing so by around 60%.

Recently El Salvador has deployed 800 police officers and 300 migration officials to reinforce the country’s main borders, prevent illegal people smuggling, and fight transnational crime. An agreement was also signed with the US to facilitate the return of many asylum seekers.

For its part, the United States explained in a press conference that the travel alerts do not reflect the nature of its bilateral relationships with any country. Despite this, relations between the United States and El Salvador have significantly improved since president Bukele took office, becoming in just a few months one of North America’s closest allies in the region.

[1] The United States’ level 1 alert is “exercise normal precautions”. Level 2 is “exercise increased caution”. Level 3 is “reconsider travel”, and level 4 is “do not travel”.


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Substantial investment in public safety in Peru

policia perúPeru’s Head of State, Martín Vizcarra Cornejo, alongside the president of the Council of Ministers, Vicente Zeballos, and the Minister of Interior, Carlos Morán, led a ceremony in which 900 new vehicles were delivered to the Peruvian National Police (PNP).

The delivery was a sign of the government’s commitment to improving safety for Peruvians. According to the government, the investment aims to improve security for the population by not skimping on the experience and resources necessary to guarantee an effective police presence throughout the country, especially in the most dangerous areas. Furthermore, it underlined that the country’s economic development hinges not only on growth but also on security.

The investment in equipment will be complemented by an investment in human resources, with the incorporation of 12,000 new agents dedicated entirely to reinforcing security on the streets. At the same time, a study to look at ways of improving working conditions for police force has been commissioned.

The Minister of Interior specified that the police would be tasked with distributing the new vehicles between sectors, sub-sectors, and quadrants so that, initially, all commissions in Lima and Callao will have an exhaustive and monitored preventive patrol service. The model will be extended to the rest of the country at a later date.

The acquisition of the 900 vehicles – 700 cars and 200 pick-up trucks – is a testament to the fact that the safety of its citizens is a fundamental priority for the government. In this way, the service can be rolled out quickly, in line with demands from the public.

The vehicles have been acquired on rental agreements to allow the service to operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with the entire fleet of cars and human resources in operation. This is made possible because the contract includes vehicle maintenance (with 50 back-up vehicles), and no extra charge for faults, repairs, or accidents.

The 900 new vehicles and 12,000 extra police will see a return to more police presence on the streets, in parks, at universities, and other educational centres. The government underlined the fact that public safety is an absolute priority for the executive and demanded by the people. As such, they will not skimp on providing the experience and resources needed to tackle crime and guarantee security for both Lima and the rest of the country.

The vehicles, which are already operational, are equipped with LED light bars, electronic sirens, identification signage, and real-time GPS location monitoring.

They also have a telemetry system, compatible with any mobile device, which can, among other things, monitor fuel consumption and produce detailed reports on all callouts.


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The present and future of organised crime in the European Union

Organised crime has evolved significantly over the last twenty years, especially in terms of the number of criminal organisations, their modus operandi, the use of technology and organised crime’s ability to infiltrate infrastructures and the public sector and to make the most of legal loopholes.

This was just one of the conclusions reached at the European Police Chiefs Convention 2019 (EPCC), during which some 600 police officials and representatives from 50 countries gathered at Europol headquarters in The Hague.

This annual event brings together police chiefs and officials from the EU and from all over the world to exchange assessments of the threats, challenges and opportunities posed by current and emerging criminal groups. Through hundreds of bilateral and multilateral meetings, the delegates discussed the continuing evolution of organised crime and how it has become a significant challenge for EU security. The police authorities of the EU member states and Europol all agreed that the increasingly cross-border nature of organised crime, often tied to violence between gangs, the expansion of the drug traffic markets and related crimes like money laundering and corruption, constitutes a significant challenge for our society.

In some regions of several EU member states a vicious circle that involves social exclusion, criminality, mistrust of the police and, in some cases, radicalisation has been observed.

Meanwhile, new psychoactive substances, record levels of drug production worldwide, organised trafficking of migrants and the development of online crime have had a profound effect on the criminal panorama.

Europol and the Finnish Presidency of the Council of the European Union concluded that various areas require special attention. These include:

  • a focus on organised crime, considering it as a serious threat to the EU’s internal security.
    • a need to tackle high-level organised criminal groups by developing more effective initiatives, such as the ‘high-value target’ concept at Europol.
    • greater attention being paid to economic and financial crime and the confiscation of criminal assets, which will ensure that the costs of crime are paid by criminals. And the use of new tools like the European Financial and Economic Crime Centre (EFECC) at Europol and the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO).
    • greater flow of information between the police and the private sector, at national and European levels (Europol).
    more investment in crime prevention, which requires a multidisciplinary approach that involves government bodies, NGOs and the private sector.
    a need for an overall EU strategy to tackle organised crime, which may be expanded during the EU policy cycle on serious international crime.


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