GRIDS Focal Points discuss the Development of Fusion Centres around the world

On 23 July 2020, the INCB's Global Rapid Interdiction of Dangerous Substances (GRIDS) Programme organised a hybrid in-person and virtual panel discussion for around 150 focal points on the practical development of multi-agency fusion centres for the exchange of information to counter the trafficking in dangerous substances. The aim was to promote the concepts and benefits of various fusion centre models, as well as to guide the participants in the practical steps needed to initiate such a mechanism. Panellists from national and regional fusion centres in five time zones shared their experience of establishing and participating in these centres.

Conducted in four languages, panels were held in English for Asia and the Pacific, Arabic for North Africa and the Middle East, French for Europe and Africa, and Spanish and English for the Americas. Expert panellists from national centres in Brazil, Canada, Chile, New Zealand, Paraguay and the USA, as well as from the Arab Narcotics and Crime Bureau, CARICOM Regional Intelligence Fusion Centre (RIFC), the Gulf Cooperation Council's (GCC) Criminal Information Centre to Combat Drugs (CICCD), the European Union's (EU) Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre (MAOC), the Lancang-Mekong Integrated Law Enforcement and Security Cooperation Center (LMLECC), the Pacific Transnational Crime Coordination Centre (PTCCC), the Regional Intelligence Liaison Office (RILO) for North Africa, Near and Middle East, the Regional Maritime Information Centre (RMIFC) for the Western Indian Ocean and the Postal Union of the Americas, Spain and Portugal (UPAEP) participated.

Experts agreed that the main advantage of fusion centres, besides the effective and efficient sharing of information and intelligence, comprises the reduction of confliction and duplication of work among participating agencies, the cost-effective pooling of resources in terms of staffing and technology, as well as the provision of a single point of contact both a national and international level. In contrast, common challenges included diverging mandates and priorities, competition and lack of trust between agencies, and inequal contribution and engagement. Chesley Ollivierre, Chief Analyst of Intelligence at CARICOM RIFC, pointed out that "crime and security must be everyone's problem and priority, from the ordinary citizen on the street to the Prime Minister/President to ensure collective security".

Aaron Holloway, Manager of the New Zealand Transnational Crime Unit (TCU), further noted that the success of a fusion centre in the Pacific is "not about having the latest technology or most resources, but building strong relationships and trusted networks which will allow the effective targeting of transnational organised crime". This was also why "the work by the INCB to promote fusion centres in this region and around the world is so important".

GRIDS supports the 2018 United Nations General Assembly Resolution 73/192, calling for "international cooperation to address and counter the world drug problem", by responding to requests by Member States to enhance their law enforcement capacity to detect and identify new psychoactive substances (NPS) and promote cross-border cooperation and information-sharing through the use of the Board's specialized tools and projects. Under the GRIDS programme, the Project ION, the OPIOIDS Project and the IONICS platform provide practical tools to interdict illicit manufacture, marketing, movement and monetization of dangerous NPS and fentanyl-related substances, and in cooperation with the Board's global precursors programme, their precursors, through information and intelligence exchange.

The Board's GRIDS Programme of activities is made possible through the generous investments by the Governments of Australia, Canada, Japan and the United States.

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