INTERPOL, Red Notices and Diffusions

Q1. What is INTERPOL?

INTERPOL is an international body which helps police forces in different countries cooperates by providing them with shared databases and communications channels. One of its major roles is to enable the circulation of information about wanted persons in the form of Red Notices (Q3) and Diffusions (Q4). For more information about INTERPOL, see our Frequently Asked Questions document.

Q2. Who / what is a National Central Bureau?

A National Central Bureau (‘NCB’) is a division of the police in a given country which exchanges information with INTERPOL. Typically, this will be a section of the police responsible for international cooperation.

Q3. What is a Red Notice?

A Red Notice is an electronic alert published by INTERPOL at the request of an NCB (see Q2). It is stored on INTERPOL’s databases and can be seen by police and immigration authorities all over the world.

The function of a Red Notice is to ‘seek the location of a wanted person and his/her detention, arrest or restriction of movement for the purpose of extradition, surrender or similar lawful action’. A Red Notice informs law enforcement officers in one country that thoseof another country seek the arrest of a particular person.

A Red Notice contains information concerning the wanted person including name, date of birth, nationality, and a photograph. It also includes a description of the charge for which the personis ‘wanted’, and a description of the acts which they are alleged to have committed.

Q4. What is a Diffusion?

A Diffusion is also an alert which notifies law enforcement authorities that another country seeks the arrest of a specific person. It differs from a Red Notice in that it is not published ‘by’ INTERPOL at the country’s request; instead, it is circulated through INTERPOL’s channels by the country itself. However, Diffusions and Red Notices can have many of the same effects.

Q5. If I am subject to a Red Notice / Diffusion, can I travel?

There is a significant risk of your being arrested, both at home and when travelling, if you are subject to a Red Notice / Diffusion. In many countries, border agents are required to arrest persons subject to Red Notices, so you could be arrested on arrival or departure at an airport. Equally, in some countries hotels will forward information about guests to the local police, who check the names against INTERPOL lists, which could also lead to your arrest.