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  • Red Notice Monitor


Our focus here at Red Notice Monitor is, perhaps not surprisingly, on Interpol Red Notices.  However, Interpol issues a number of other colour-coded Notices.  Yellow Notices are to help locate missing persons. Blue Notices collect additional information about a person’s identity or location or activities in relation to a criminal investigation.  There are also Green, Orange and Purple Notices. 

In this issue of our blog, we focus on Interpol Black Notices. Interpol's website tells us that Black Notices are “to seek information on unidentified bodies”.  Black Notices can be crucial components of international efforts to solve cases involving unidentified bodies and can play a pivotal role by leveraging the expertise and resources of other law enforcement agencies.  By disseminating these sorts of Notices, Interpol works to increase the likelihood of identifying the deceased and closing cases.

In May 2023, Interpol launched “Operation Identify Me” to solve cold cases across Western Europe. The operation is a public appeal to identify the bodies of 25 women believed to have been murdered across Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany and whose remains are as yet unidentified.  These are extreme cold cases relating to women who died as long as 40 years ago. Interpol has published a Black Notice for each one of these victims – Black Notices are typically for police information only but in this operation, Interpol has shared details of each case including facial reconstruction images and other identification markers in order that they might be recognised. So, information that has been made public in this operation would ordinarily only be available to other law enforcement agencies.  Most of the women in the operation are believed to have been between 15 and 30 at the time of their death and may have come from all across Europe.  In 2023, the operation met with a significant success in the case of Rita Roberts, who moved from Cardiff to Antwerp in 1992.  Her body was found in an Antwerp River over 30 years ago, but not then identified.  Rita Roberts did, however, have a distinctive tattoo on her forearm and an image of the tattoo was circulated on news websites as part of Operation Identify Me where it was seen by a relative. 

Outside that operation, a few weeks ago, Interpol released a Black Notice in relation to a woman’s body that was found floating in a bag by fishermen in New Zealand.  Interpol Black Notices circulate comprehensive details such as fingerprints, dental records, DNA profiles as well as pictures.  On occasion, Interpol will also circulate facial reconstruction images.

The success of Operation Identify Me underscores the importance of this aspect of the Notice system.  At Red Notice Monitor, we hope that we can act as a critical friend to Interpol – the Red Notice system can be an effective, if sometimes flawed, tool for international police cooperation.  The Black Notice system is plainly a mechanism for good and represents an essential part of the Interpol toolkit and we wish it success.


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