International information exchange
- Last year, the Single Point of Operational Contact of the Directorate of International Police Cooperation (CGI) processed no less than 218 856 information messages through multiple channels.
- The SPOC moved up a gear in 2019 since Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) led to an increase in the number of hits in the Schengen Information System (SIS).
- In 2019, drug trafficking and theft are again among the most common cross-border crimes within Europol's mandate
Single Point of Operational Contact (SPOC)
The Single Point of Operational Contact (SPOC) is the hub for international police information exchange and international alerts in our country. The SPOC is manned 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Operational messages registered and processed at SPOC level (through Interpol, Europol, liaison officers, police services, and any other operational messages) and IN/OUT messages from the Police and Customs Cooperation Centres (CCPD-CPDS) of Tournai, Kerkrade and Luxembourg
|Schengen Information System (SIS)*||6 818||7 596|
|Interpol (IP)**||1 828||2 028|
|Total||8 646||9 624|
* SIS: Schengen Information System. System by which international alerts are issued in the Schengen area.
** IP: Interpol. Allows international alerts (diffusions or notices) to be issued outside the Schengen area.
International alerts are a special type of general information exchange: the police service issuing the alert sends information, but at the same time asks for a measure to be taken in its own interest. The main measures that may be taken in connection with an international alert are as follows:
- the arrest of a person;
- refusal of entry or stay in the territory;
- the search for and/or protection of a missing person;
- investigation for a judicial procedure;
- specific or discrete control with or without immediate contact with the SPOC;
These alerts are currently still issued manually. Alerts in the Schengen Information System (SIS) for seizure purposes are automatically issued after entry in the General National Database (BNG-ANG) by the police.
A hit means that there is a match with an entity subject of an international alert and for which a measure has been requested. The entity concerned may either have taken the measure or not.
|Belgian hits on foreign international alerts||2018||2019|
|Schengen Information System (SIS)||8 830||11 738*|
|Total||9 421||12 328|
* Including 2 644 through Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR), which explains the sharp rise.
|Foreign hits on Belgian international alerts||2018||2019|
|Schengen Information System (SIS)||6 056||7 370|
|Total||6 130||7 569|
In order to meet the requirements of international operational message handling in the field of languages, the SPOC has a translation department which translates messages with an operational character (i.e. linked to a file of judicial or administrative police) within the set deadlines. The messages are mainly sent via Schengen, Interpol, Europol and the liaison officers by both Belgian and foreign police forces.
|Translations carried out||15 284||13 774|
|Translations related to FLASH cases (to be processed within the hour):||33,5%||34%|
* Almost all translations concern operational files
Proactive screening of Interpol and Schengen alerts
Since May 2018, the SPOC has gradually been using an automated system for proactive screening of lists of new international alert requests received by Belgium from abroad. Proactive screening is checking the lists of foreign Interpol alerts and the lists of Schengen A forms (notifications of new foreign SIS alerts for arrest purposes). The SPOC compares those lists with Belgian databases. This not only allows for quick and systematic processing of the lists, but also for provision of local operational information to the colleagues in the field and any interested units or services.
The system is currently used for all the Interpol alerts and the Schengen A forms (notification that a Member State has issued an international SIS alert for arrest purposes). This makes it possible for the SPOC to screen them proactively.
|Alerts screened||8 983||23 426|
* The big difference between 2018 and 2019 can be explained by the fact that the system was implemented only in May 2018, but used throughout 2019.
**In this case, a "hit" means that a link with Belgium was found, for example: registered in Belgium, known with a measure to be taken in ANG ...
Featured: the A forms in the Schengen Information System (SIS)
- 19 064 A forms checked in 2019 (notifications of new foreign SIS alerts for arrest)
- 26 086 aliases checked (any A form relating to a person may contain several aliases for that same person and each alias is checked)
- 626 hits by checking the A forms received.
SIRENE for supplementary requests
SIRENE stands for Supplementary Information Request at the National Entries.
Each state operating the Schengen Information System has set up a national SIRENE Bureau which is responsible for international alerts. The activities of those SIRENE Bureaux range from validation to provision of supplementary information on alerts.
- Forms sent by SIRENE-Belgium : 15 349
- Forms received by SIRENE-Belgium : 42 267
Focus on low-cost bus companies
Like last year, the Single Point of Operational Contact (SPOC) supported the Antwerp district in the Colombus 3 action, which took place at Valaar quarters in Wilrijk on 6 April. It concerns an exercise specifically for trainee inspectors and trainee chief inspectors. The aim is to screen buses of low-cost companies in particular, which are intercepted and "scanned". The action was a collaboration between the Campus VESTA police school, customs, the Federal Judicial Police, the Federal Traffic Police, the District Communication and Information Service (SICAD/CIA-AIK) and the SPOC. The partners were assisted by a judicial bureau for further handling of files. This year again, the action was a success in terms of preparation, implementation and results. This year again, the action was a success in terms of preparation, implementation and results.
- Number of passengers checked: 171
- Number of objects: 30
- Reports for drug possession: 7
- Illegal immigrants including 1 arrest warrant: 3
- Alert for DNA collection: 1
Top 5 crimes within Europol's mandate, dealt with by the SPOC:
|1.||Theft and aggravated theft||Illicit drug trafficking|
|2.||Illicit drug trafficking||Theft and aggravated theft|
|3.||Fraud and deception||Fraud and deception|
|4.||Illegal immigration||Illegal immigration|
|5.||Money laundering||Vehicle crime|
Belgian-French cooperation yields results in Romania
On 25 September, the Belgian and French police cooperated in a large-scale judicial operation in Romania (28 house searches in 10 provinces and in Bucharest). Romanian prosecutors coordinated and led the operation and our Romanian colleagues of the Criminal Investigations Directorate carried it out. The East Flanders Federal Judicial Police conducted the investigation in Belgium.
The target: a criminal group responsible for a series of burglaries in building centres and DIY stores in France and Belgium between September 2017 and July 2019. The loot amounted to more than one million euros. The criminal group was dismantled.
Working with European databases
Some tools facilitate the provision and transmission of operational information between the Member States of the European Union. The EIS database and the SIENA communication platform are part of those tools used by the Federal Police.
EIS (Europol Information System)
The Europol Information System is the Europol database involving operational information exchange between EU Member States and third parties in the field of serious and/or organised crime – affecting two or more Member States –, terrorism and other serious forms of crime.
The EIS was developed by the European Europol agency in order to quickly obtain information on serious international crime from other countries and to detect potential hits between different operational investigations.
- EIS training participants of the Federal Police in 2019: 18 (2 sessions)
SIENA (Secure Information Exchange Network Application)
SIENA is a highly secured platform/application for operational crime-related information exchange between EU Member States, Europol and third parties in the field of serious and/or organised crime – affecting two or more Member States –, terrorism and other serious forms of crime.
- SIENA training participants of the Federal Police in 2019: 98 (8 sessions)
Our liaison officers
The liaison officers (LOs) are an important link in international police cooperation. They facilitate, among other things, the police information exchange and the execution of requests for mutual assistance in criminal matters.
In 2019, 10 Belgian liaison officers worked abroad for the Belgian police services. Those officers were active in 47 partner countries.
Last year, our liaison officers in Spain and Brazil, whose mandate had come to an end, were replaced. Furthermore, all the necessary preparations were made to open a new LO post in London in February 2020.
Besides its bilateral LOs, the Belgian police also has three contact officers working for Europol in The Hague and Interpol in Lyon.
Murder case solved thanks to Belgian-Spanish cooperation
On 12 November 2019, the office of the liaison officer of the Belgian police in Madrid (LOBEES) was notified by the Spanish colleagues of the Guardia Civil. The police was looking for the vehicle of a Belgian woman who had been murdered in the region of Malaga and for a Belgian national – the victim's partner and suspected murderer. It seemed that the vehicle had headed for Belgium. The LOBEES office started with sending on the information requests of the Spanish colleagues (photographs of the vehicle, the suspect's phone number and criminal records, etc.) to the Single Point of Operational Contact (SOC) of the Directorate of International Police Cooperation (CGI).
In the night of 13 November, the man was controlled In Tubize by a patrol of the Ouest Brabant Wallon police zone while he was driving the victim's vehicle. The suspect had been released after a brief interrogation, which was confirmed by the Belgian SPOC. This happened because the Guardia Civil in Malaga had issued a SIS alert only for the vehicle.
Our liaison officer (LO) in Madrid immediately contacted the Spanish authorities in order to issue a European arrest warrant (EAW) against the suspect and enter him into the Schengen Information System (SIS). The liaison officer then sent this European arrest warrant to the SPOC. The liaison officer also contacted the Fugitive Active Search Team (FAST) and the police zone which had intercepted the vehicle. He wanted to update the suspect's status and asked them to keep him informed of any elements in this case.
In the night of 14 to 15 November, the police zone arrested the man who was about to murder another ex-partner. The police zone immediately notified the LO in Madrid and the SPOC sent the HIT form relating to the suspect's arrest.
Without delay, the liaison officer, together with the public prosecutor's office and the Nivelles Federal Judicial Police arranged for the Spanish colleagues to come to Belgium in order to check the vehicle. At the same time, the practical arrangements for extraditing the suspect to the Spanish authorities were finalised.
This is an example of the excellent cooperation between the Guardia Civil and the Spanish authorities on the one hand and the LO of the Belgian police in Madrid, the Federal Police and the SPOC in particular, and the Local Police on the other.