A variety of tools is available to law enforcement officers to obtain information and evidence from foreign countries. Mutual assistance and police-to-police assistance are separate forms of cooperation that complement one another.
Mutual assistance is the process countries use to provide and obtain formal government-to-government assistance in criminal investigations and prosecutions. Mutual assistance is also used to recover the proceeds of crime. The Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Act 1992 (“MACMA”) governs the provision of mutual assistance in criminal matters in New Zealand.
Further information about mutual assistance is contained in Mutual Assistance.
Police-to-police assistance is informal cooperation that is provided by one country’s police force to the police force of another country. Examples of police-to-police assistance include providing general intelligence, operational briefings and information obtained from voluntary interviews. Interpol is the world’s largest international police organisation. It facilitates police-to police assistance and cooperation even where diplomatic relations do not exist between particular countries.
In some cases, other agencies, such as our Serious Fraud Office, are able to enter into information sharing agreements with another agency or body to supply or receive information in the form of a memorandum of understanding.
Further information about Interpol can be found here.
Police-to-police assistance is often used in the investigation stage of a law enforcement operation, or to obtain general intelligence or information that would not require the exercise of coercive powers. Police-to-police assistance can be an effective way to determine what material is held by a foreign country prior to making a mutual assistance request. As police forces are typically called upon to assist with executing mutual assistance requests, a good relationship between police forces benefits the mutual assistance process.