A range of tools and instruments are available to first responders and investigators to support them when conducting inquiries or investigation involving foreign nationals or information held overseas. In particular there are additional checks that need to be undertaken when dealing with a foreign national, as well as tactical options available to investigators through immigration enforcement to disrupt criminality or support transnational investigations. In all cases when considering immigration enforcement tactics, these should promote safeguarding and the welfare of victims, witnesses and suspects, as well as furthering the needs of the investigation.

The contents of this APP applies to both European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA) and non-EU countries. However, some options will only apply to EU countries. Where differences occur between EU and non-EU processes these will be highlighted.

For further resources and advice documents see also the Knowledge Hub International Crime Coordination Centre community (this link is available to authorised users who are logged on to the Knowledge Hub).


This advice can be divided into three key areas, although there may be overlap in practice.

  • Routine policing
  • Transnational investigations
  • Illegal or clandestine entry of foreign nationals

The majority of police forces will have an international liaison officer (ILO) or a police officer or staff member who performs a similar role. The ILO should be the first point of contact for guidance and advice relating to the topics covered in this APP. They will be able to advise on local policies or procedures in your force.

Multi-agency and joint working with partners is vital for this area of policing. Police should work alongside other agencies to support an effective investigation and to safeguard vulnerable victims, witnesses and suspects.

Where necessary, references are made to relevant partner agencies throughout this APP.

Officers should consider the assistance of regional organised crime units (ROCUs) and the help they can provide relating to serious and organised crime and organised crime groups (OCGs). Those who are trafficked or exploited by OCGs are often the symptom of a wider problem, and policing should always where possible focus on the exploiters and abusers rather than those exploited and abused. See also modern slavery.

Routine policing

Police officers and staff will encounter foreign nationals in the street, in custody or otherwise as part of an investigation. In all these circumstances it may be necessary to check the status of a foreign national if they are involved or suspected of being involved in criminality in the England and Wales. This section provides advice on the tools and procedures that can be used in or out of custody.

Out of custody encounters not under arrest

Police officers who deal with foreign nationals involved in criminality, in the street, during an investigation or otherwise outside of the custody environment, should still ensure that relevant checks are made to confirm the identity of the individual, confirm their immigration status and obtain any previous offending history.

For fast-time immigration status checks contact Immigration Enforcement.

For slower time requests, eg, foreign nationals of interest to ongoing investigations complete the NCCU Proforma (Managed Learning Environement log on required) and email to Requests are answered within 24 hours.

Custody procedures

If you have a foreign national in custody, the following checks and steps should be undertaken to confirm their identity and status. Information may also help to manage the risk from or to the person detained, for example, they may be wanted for crime abroad, have previously committed offences against vulnerable people, or may be a vulnerable missing person themselves.

These are additional actions and do not replace any general policies and procedures in detention and custody.

1.Ensure the subjects fingerprints are checked on Livescan.

This also checks against the Immigration database and will return a hit if the subject is of interest to immigration. Positive hits should be followed up.

Ensure the immigration button is selected before sending fingerprints to make sure they are also checked against immigration records.

2. Once a Livescan check is complete, for real-time immigration status checks on all foreign nationals in custody, contact IE NCCU. 

To provide an efficient and accurate check to establish identity, please provide the following information:

  • full name
  • any alias details
  • date of birth
  • nationality and
  • Livescan results.
  • Note: IE NCCU checks can still be completed if the Livescan results are not available.

3. Obtain and seize any identity documents

  • Passport, ID card, driver’s licence or birth certificate – the power for seizure of nationality documents is found at section 46 of the UK Borders Act 2007 (exercisable when conducting a section 44 or 45 search under this act)

Consider a search under Section 44 of the UK Borders Act 2007.
See Confirming the identity of a foreign national offender for further information on identity documents.

4. Ensure that a request for previous foreign convictions is completed via ACRO

5.Conduct INTERPOL I-24/7 check.

This will provide an instant result and may:

  • identify if the subject is wanted in another country and the offence for which they are wanted which may infom decisions around bail and the status of the person if part of a wider investigation.
  • help identify adult missing people (eg, at the request of the family), missing children, or help to identify people who are unable to identify themselves.

6. Consider an INTERPOL check via the National Crime Agency.

This may return additional police intelligence, eg, it may support safeguarding and  risk assessments by providing intelligence about people who have committed offences against vulnerable people elsewhere in the world and may be likely to repeat those crimes in England or Wales, eg, child sex offences, drug or human trafficking.

At case disposal stage:

7. Consider whether a foreign national offender conditional caution is appropriate.

If charged:

8. Serve an IM3 immigration deportation liability notice at the point of charge

  • this should be served on foreign national offenders over 17 who have been charged with an  imprisonable offence.

Overseas conviction checks

ACRO Criminal Records office is responsible for exchanging criminal conviction information between the UK and other countries within the EU and around the world.

Overview of the exchange of information

Information exchange with EU member states is done using the European Criminal Records Information System (ECRIS).

For information exchange outside of the EU, ACRO conducts a similar criminal record exchange using the secure communication channel of INTERPOL’s I-24/7 system.

The exchange of information involves two main processes:


Outgoing notifications are sent to other countries by ACRO when their nationals are convicted of criminal offences in the UK.

Incoming notifications are received by ACRO when UK nationals are convicted of criminal offences in other countries.


Outgoing requests are sent by ACRO on behalf of authorised UK agencies, to   countries requesting checks on the previous convictions of persons who are subject to criminal proceedings in the UK or for other public protection purposes.

Incoming requests are received from other countries, and responded to by ACRO, for the previous convictions for persons subject to particular inquiries or proceedings in that country.

See the International Criminal Conviction Exchange (Knowledge Hub log on required) for more information.

Making a request for criminal records overseas

A foreign conviction check should be undertaken for all suspects, and can also be considered for victims and witnesses who are foreign nationals depending on the circumstances of the investigation.

Do not under take checks where the individual is seeking asylum.

Local procedures for submitting requests vary between forces.

Some forces require officers to complete the ACRO International Criminal Conviction Exchange request form and send it directly to ACRO. Others police forces have incorporated the ACRO form into their IT systems or standard forms library and prefer it to be sent to a single point of contact, such as an ILO, FIB or PNC bureau, before submission to ACRO. Other police forces have established an automated process where the form is completed and sent to ACRO automatically.

Make yourself aware of local procedures by searching your force intranet or by contacting your ILO, force intelligence bureau or PNC bureau.

When making a request include all standard information as if you were conducting a local search – full name, date of birth, place of birth (including town), nationality, gender and alias details. Some countries will require additional specific personal information in order to search their criminal registers. A list of country requirements is available on the International Criminal Conviction Exchange community on the Knowledge Hub).

ACRO will submit the request to the destination country for checking and provide details of any convictions to the requesting force. Where possible fingerprints will be submitted to assist in establishing identity.

The EU legislation permits requests to be made across the EU. It requires member states to reply within 10 working days of receipt. There will still be administration tasks and translation requirements outside of this period, but ACRO will endeavour to reply to your request as soon as possible. There are no set response times outside of the EU, although urgent cases can be prioritised and ACRO will chases all cases regularly.

Responses from the EU will be returned to the requestor on a certificate detailing any foreign convictions held or confirming that no convictions have been found on the criminal register of the destination country. Replies from outside of the EU will detail positive or negative information regarding conviction data, but may also contain other police intelligence. ACRO will email this information to the requestor with any extracts provided by the country.

Where responses are received in the native language they are translated before being sent to the requesting officer. If insufficient information is provided and the subject cannot be identified, additional data will be requested before a full response is issued.

See the International Criminal Conviction Exchange (accessed via the Knowledge Hub) for more information.

Police National Computer (PNC) / Home Office Serious Offence List

Conviction information from within the EU can only be used for the purposes it was requested – your investigation or prosecution. Information received from countries outside of the EU can be used for your investigation or prosecution, and also as police intelligence unless specifically stated otherwise.

The EU Council Framework Decision 2009/315/JHA prevents the PNC from being updated, unless the conviction represents an ‘immediate and serious threat to public security’. Offences which fulfil these criteria are included in a list of offences known as the Home Office Serious Offence List (accessed via College Managed Learning Environment (MLE)). These offences are added to the PNC by ACRO.

Use of the response

Under section 103 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003, all convictions held overseas have the same relevance, in relation to evidence of bad character, as those committed in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Officers should liaise with the CPS at the earliest opportunity if foreign previous convictions are to be used in criminal proceedings, to ensure that relevant documentation is obtained. It is worth noting that section 103 is only applicable if the overseas offence in question would constitute an offence in law in England and Wales at the time of trial for the current offence.

Confirming the identity of a foreign national suspect

Confirming the identity of a foreign national suspect is important and should be completed during their first encounter with the police. This will ensure the individual is managed appropriately and that successful checks on the person’s immigration status and offending history can be made.

Identity documents

Officers should search suspects for identity documents when dealing with a suspected foreign national offender. Identity documents should be seized by officers on arrest. ID documents should be scanned, where possible, and original documents should be bagged separately in exhibit bags.

Any documents seized should be checked to make sure they are genuine. Fraudulent or stolen identity documents are common. The following tools can be used to examine and identify possible forged/fraudulent documents:

  • Some custody suites may have document scanners which can be used to check if a document is genuine.

Fingerprint check

The result of a fingerprint check should be shared with the Immigration Enforcement National Command and Control Unit (NCCU) when making an initial call to them. Refer to the Contact IE for more information on NCCU.

Section 44 searches

If a suspect does not have any identity documents, and a fingerprint record cannot confirm their identity, and it is suspected that the offender may not be British, section 44 of the Borders Act 2007 can be used as a power to enter and search premises without a warrant for documents to confirm nationality following arrest.

Use of this legislation is only available:

  • where an individual has been arrested on suspicion of the commission of an offence
  • where their identity is unknown and it is suspected they are not a British citizen
  • where nationality documents relating to the individual may be found in the premises occupied or controlled by the individual or where they were arrested or where the individual was immediately before arrest; and
  • with written authority from an inspector or above (this can also be signed off by a chief immigration officer).

The senior officer who gives authority must arrange for a written record to be made of the grounds relied on for the suspicion on which the power of the search is to be exercised, and the nature of the documents sought.

Section 46 of the Act can be used to seize any documents found. Documents can be retained if it is suspected the suspect may be removable from the UK.

Voluntary attenders/out of court disposals

Foreign national offenders are not always arrested and can be dealt with by means of an out of court disposal, eg, community resolution, or by voluntary attendance at a police station. Police officers who deal with foreign national offenders in this way should still ensure that relevant checks are made to confirm the identity of the individual, confirm their immigration status and obtain any previous offending history.

Foreign national offender conditional caution

The foreign national offender conditional caution can be used for foreign national offenders over the age of 18 who commits a summary or either-way offence with a penalty of up to two years imprisonment.

The NPCC National Strategy for the Policing Response to International Criminality defines a foreign national offender as ‘a person known or suspected to be involved in criminality who cannot be confirmed as a British Citizen at birth.’

See charging and case preparation for operational and administrative considerations for the use of the FNO conditional caution.

Transnational investigations

In addition to routine policing checks on foreign nationals, where an investigation requires the exchange of information, intelligence or evidence across international borders, or the extradition of foreign nationals into or out of England and Wales, there are specific procedures  that must be followed to ensure that said material is gathered lawfully. If this material is evidential, applying the appropriate procedures will ensure that it is admissible in a court of law.

Where foreign nationals are involved in criminality in the UK and/or their activities cross international borders, there are a range of tactics that can be deployed with the support of Immigration Enforcement to further lines of enquiry or to disrupt criminal activity in England and Wales.

Mutual legal assistance

Where it is necessary to conduct enquiries overseas mutual legal assistance (MLA) is the formal way to request assistance in another country.

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, MLA requests are known as letters of request (LOR) or international letter of requests (ILOR). The purpose of a LOR is to ask the requested state to obtain specific, identifiable evidence.

It outlines the case, the evidence requested and any legislation that should be adhered to in order to ensure that the evidence is gathered in a way that will be admissible in the requesting state’s criminal proceedings.

Outgoing MLA requests

Outgoing LORs are drafted and issued by a court or designated prosecutor (for England and Wales this usually means the CPS) under the Crime (International Cooperation) Act 2003 (CICA). In most cases the Home Office will transmit LOR through diplomatic channels.

Assistance can be requested both before and after a person is charged with an offence, during the investigation phase, or prior to a suspect being arrested.

Assistance that can be requested under an LOR include requests:

  • to take witness statements
  • to search and/or seize property
  • to formally interview suspects
  • for banking evidence
  • for telecommunications data
  • to allow UK personnel to travel to the overseas state to conduct inquiries
  • to conduct covert deployments.

MLA can be a resource intensive and time-consuming process, placing considerable burdens on the requested state. It should, therefore, be used only where the evidence is necessary and expected to add value. It must not be used if material can be obtained through other means, eg, where material is already in the public domain or where it can be obtained through police cooperation.

Officers must wait until a formal reply has been received granting them authorisation to conduct the necessary inquiries before they travel overseas.

For more information on MLA requests refer to the Home Office website and MLA guidelines.

Incoming MLA requests

All incoming LORs are received by one of the UK central authorities:

  • Home Office.
  • Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs.
  • Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service for Scotland.

If the LOR are accepted by the central authority, law enforcement may be asked to execute the investigative measure requested.

European investigation order

A European investigation order (EIO) is an EU legal instrument which intends to speed up the assistance provided by one country to another in criminal investigations. It came into force on 31 July 2017 and is based on mutual recognition. This means each EU country is obliged to recognise and carry out a valid request from another country, as it would with a request from its own authorities.

It allows for:

  • temporary transfer of persons in custody in order to conduct investigative actions
  • checks on the bank accounts and financial operations of suspected or accused persons
  • covert investigations and intercepting telecommunications
  • measures to preserve evidence.

The EIO simplifies and speeds up cross-border criminal investigations. For example, if French judicial authorities are tracking terrorists hidden in Belgium, they can ask their Belgian counterparts to interrogate witnesses or conduct house searches on their behalf (source European Commission Press Release).

EIO guidance (developed by the Home Office) provides detailed guidance on their use and the application process. See also EIO template form.

Schengen Information System

The second generation Schengen Information System (SISII) is a pan-European database that circulates real-time information alerts between participating countries in relation to people and property.

Most EU countries (and some non-EU) have access to SIS data. SISII data is available in the UK to all police officers, police staff and law enforcement agents via the PNC.

A PNC enquiry automatically checks for SISII alerts. The UK can also create SISII alerts via the PNC to automatically share with other member states. SISII also delivers information to the UK Border Force.

Each SISII participating country has a Supplementary Information Request at the National Entry (SIRENE) bureau responsible for managing alerts and communication with other bureaux. The UK’s SIRENE bureau is at the National Crime Agency (NCA).

Each police force has a dedicated SISII lead and SPOC to help with the operation and smooth running of SISII. They also act as a link between the force and the SIRENE bureau.

Under the EU Council Decision 2007/533/JHA there are five types of alerts that can be either created or responded to depending on the circumstances and policy:

  • Article 26:  Alerts for persons wanted for arrest for extradition purposes, for whom a warrant has been issued.
  • Article 32:  Alerts for missing persons who need to be placed under police protection or in a place of safety, including minors and adults not at risk.
  • Article 34:  Alerts for witnesses, absconders, or subjects of criminal judgements to appear before the judicial authorities.
  • Article 36:  Alerts relating to people or vehicles (including boats, aircrafts and containers)requiring discreet or specific checks.
  • Article 38:  Alerts relating to objects that are misappropriated, lost, stolen and which may be sought for the purposes of seizure or for use as evidence.

Further information see Creating and responding to alerts on the MLE

For information on SISII, including FAQs please refer to the International Criminal Conviction Exchange community on the Knowledge Hub.

Extraditions – European Arrest Warrants (EAW)

Extradition is the formal process where one country asks another to return a person to stand trial or to serve a prison sentence. Under multilateral conventions and bilateral extradition treaties the UK has extradition relations with over 100 territories around the world.

The extradition of a person into the UK is called import extradition or outgoing request. The extradition of a person from the UK is called export extradition or incoming request.

An extradition request cannot be made for a wanted person for questioning.

The diagram below shows which part of the Extradition Act is used in different situations you may encounter.

Extradition from the UK: EU

Part 1

The basis for extradition with EU member states is the European Arrest Warrant Framework Decision and (for export/incoming extradition) part one of the Extradition Act 2003.

The process for extradition from the UK on a EAW is:

  • EAW is submitted (usually electronically, by means of an alert placed on SISII)
  • certificate is issued (after a proportionality test is applied)
  • arrest by police
  • initial hearing
  • extradition hearing.

The NCA is the designated authority for EAWs and the UK SIRENE Bureau for EAW alerts on SISII.

Extradition from the UK: outside the EU

Part 2

Part two of the Extradition Act 2003 applies to countries outside of the EU. Some countries are designated under this part on the basis of a bilateral or multilateral arrangement. Even if the UK does not have an extradition arrangement or treaty with a country, it may still be possible for that country to make an extradition request to the UK by entering into ‘special extradition arrangements’.

Requests under part two need decisions by both the secretary of state and the courts. The extradition process is:

  • extradition request is made to the secretary of state
  • secretary of state decides whether to certify the request
  • a judge decides whether to issue a warrant for arrest
  • the person wanted is arrested and brought before the court by police
  • preliminary hearing
  • extradition hearing
  • secretary of state decides whether to order extradition.

Extradition to the UK: EU

Part 3

Outgoing EAWs are made under part three of the Extradition Act 2003. Prosecutors apply to magistrates court for a EAW to be issued, and the EAW is transmitted to EU member states and/or circulated as an EAW alert on SISII by the NCA. It is not necessary to know if the wanted person is in a particular EU member state.

Extradition to the UK: outside the EU

Royal prerogative

Outgoing extradition requests to countries, other than those within the EAW system, fall outside the Extradition Act 2003 and are made under the royal prerogative.

Extradition requests should be prepared by the prosecuting authorities in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (eg, CPS, Serious Fraud Office or Public Prosecution Service Northern Ireland) and forwarded to the Home Office for transmission to the requested state through diplomatic channels. The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service deals with outgoing extradition requests for Scotland; these are also transmitted to the requested state through diplomatic channels.

An outgoing request can either be:

  • a full order request (ie, a request which fully complies with the requirements of the relevant treaty or other international arrangement with the requested state)
  • a request for provisional arrest-this is made when someone is known to be in a particular country but where there is insufficient time to prepare a full request, because the person is deemed to be a flight risk.

For further information see Met guidance (available to authorised users logged on to the restricted online Managed Learning Environment (MLE)). Guidance on the processes for police can be found on the MLE.

For further information on extradition processes see the Home Office guidance.

Joint investigation teams

A joint investigation team (JIT) is an established cooperation tool amongst national investigative agencies when tackling cross-border crime. They facilitate the coordination of investigations and prosecutions conducted in parallel across international borders.

A JIT can be made up of representatives from two or more countries’ competent authorities, for a specific purpose, and for a limited period of time. The JIT is based on an agreement between the parties.

The concept of a JIT should be approached from the crime’s international and cross-border dimension, rather than the seriousness of the offending.

When considering whether to establish a JIT, investigators, prosecutors and/or judges from the interested countries, should have a ’round table’ discussion (for the UK this should include a CPS representative and the investigating officer) about the relevant matters at the earliest opportunity, before any formal process or agreement is prepared. Funding may be available to cover the costs of travel, accommodation, translation/interpretation and equipment.


A UK police force is investigating the importation of class A drugs into the UK. From various intelligence sources the police force have established that the drugs are being transported into the UK from Belgium. The police force identify that Belgium Police are also investigating the same OCG. On this basis a JIT could be sought and agreed. The two countries, ie, the UK and Belgium would jointly investigate this OCG. When a JIT is in place both countries can immediately share their evidence and intelligence without the need for an ILOR. JIT members can be present at house searches, interviews, etc. in all jurisdictions covered, helping to overcome language barriers.

In certain circumstance EU JIT funding can be obtained where an EU member state is a party to the JIT.

International inquiries within the EU – Europol

Europol is the law enforcement agency of the European Union and it supports European law enforcement agencies in their fight against serious international crime and terrorism matters.

Every EU member state and operational partner has a liaison bureau which enables direct engagement with over 200 liaison officers drawn from EU member states and third party country operational partners.

The UK liaison bureau (UKLB) at Europol is overseen by the NCA on behalf of UK law enforcement. The UKLB is a multiagency unit made up of 21 officers resourced from:

  • NCA.
  • Immigration Enforcement.
  • HMRC.
  • ACRO.
  • National Counter Terrorism policing (through SO15).
  • Regional Operational Command units.
  • Police Scotland.
  • Metropolitan Police Service.

The liaison bureau forum is ideal for tracking OCGs and individuals who commit transnational criminality in multiple countries. The 2017 Serious and Organised Crime Threat Assessment showed that 70% of mapped transient OCGs operate in more than three countries. The co-location of officers speaking a common language enables face-to-face contact between EU and some non EU member states. This is an invaluable tool when investigations or inquiries are time critical.

The mandate for referring investigations or enquiries to Europol and the liaison bureaus is –

  • serious crime (not necessarily organised)
  • those which impact on more than one EU member state.

Europol can assist with the following:

  • facilitating coordination meetings at Europol HQ between the investigation teams of the UK, EU member states and any other relevant European police agencies
  • a channel for the rapid and secure exchange of information between different agencies (SIENA– secure email system)
  • cross-checking suspects’ names, contacts, vehicles etc in unique pan-European criminal databases
  • analysis of large and complex data sets, especially those relating to multiple European countries
  • advice on relevant technical and forensic issues
  • funding for operational meetings in The Hague (travel and hotel costs)
  • facilitating the establishment of a JIT.

Secure Information Exchange Network Application (SIENA)

SIENA is a state-of-the-art digital platform for the secure exchange of sensitive and restricted information between EU law enforcement, Europol and other law enforcement agencies (eg, Eurojust). This is now the preferred method of communication across Europe.

The platform enables the exchange of operational and strategic crime-related information among:

  • Europol’s liaison officers, analysts and experts
  • Member states
  • Third parties with whom Europol has cooperation agreements.

SIENA can be accessed by authorised users or by contacting your Regional Organised Crime Units (ROCU) representative or force FNO SPOC.

For more information see Europol website

See also Joint investigation teams.

Europol Information System

The Europol Information System (EIS) is Europol’s central criminal information and in­telligence database covering all Europol’s mandated crime areas. It contains serious international crime related information on suspected and convicted persons, criminal structures, offences and means used to com­mit them. It is a reference system which can be used to verify whether information on a certain person or object of interest (eg, car, telephone, email) is available be­yond national or organisational jurisdictions.

Member states have equal and unrestricted access to all data within the system. Input, retrieval and modification of data in the EIS by the member states is governed by the EU Council decision and the respective national law. Personal data retrieved from the EIS may only be used to prevent and combat crimes falling within the competence of Europol.

The EIS can be accessed by authorised users or by contacting your ROCU representative or force FNO SPOC.

Search results can only be disseminated and/or used in compliance with the handling codes. This ensures that information is processed in line with the wishes and legal framework of the information owners. The UK can, and does, restrict the access to its data where there is an operational requirement or other sensitivity.

For more information refer to the Europol website and the EIS leaflet

Europol Analysis System

The Europol Analysis System holds data and intelligence from all member states, grouped into Analysis Projects (previously called Focal Points).

Member states do not have direct access but should liaise with Analysis Projects who interrogate Europol databases and produce analytical products.

For more detailed information about Europol refer to their website or contact your ROCU or force FNO SPOC.

International inquiries outside the EU – Interpol

INTERPOL is an international police organisation, with over 190 member countries. It facilitates cross-border police cooperation, and supports and assists all agencies, authorities and services whose mission is to prevent or combat crime.

The NCA has the UK international crime bureau which provides the UK National central bureau for INTERPOL.


INTERPOL databases can be accessed through their secure global police communications network, known as the I-24/7 portal. This provides instant, direct access to a wide range of criminal databases, containing millions of records on fingerprints, DNA, stolen motor vehicles, firearms, stolen and lost travel documents and wanted persons.

Foreign nationals brought into custody should be checked against I-24/7 to identify those suspects who may be wanted by a foreign state. Unless they are known to be in the UK, there will be no entry on the PNC.

For more information see the fact sheet on INTERPOL databases

Police intelligence

INTERPOL channels can be used to make enquiries with overseas law enforcement in order to obtain police intelligence. This type of enquiry is often referred to as police-to-police enquires. These requests can be made using the INTERPOL enquiry form via the NCA. A risk assessment, commonly referred to as form C, should also be completed.

The NCA also have a network of NCA liaison officers located in key locations around the world who can help support investigations and inquiries.


INTERPOL maintains databases of fingerprints, DNA profiles and facial images, allowing police to make connections between international criminals and crime scenes.

The INTERPOL fingerprint database contains fingerprint records and latent fingerprints from across the world. Member countries can view, submit and cross-check fingerprint records using I-24/7, via the automatic fingerprint identification system (AFIS).

The AFIS gateway can be accessed by authorised users of the I-24/7 who have AFIS access on their account. Access to this gateway can be requested via the NCA international crime bureau. Users can upload fingerprint NIST files for searching and/or loading onto the database.

For more information refer to the INTERPOL fact sheet on fingerprints

INTERPOL also maintains a database of DNA profiles, known as the DNA gateway. Member countries can submit a DNA profile from offenders, crime scenes, missing persons and unidentified bodies to this database for cross checking.

For more information refer to the INTERPOL fact sheet on DNA profiles

For further information on INTERPOL forensics please see the INTERPOL website.

INTERPOL notices

Notices are international requests for cooperation or alerts allowing police in member countries to share critical crime related information. Notices include, for example, red notices for wanted persons, yellow notices for missing persons.

INTERPOL notices are shared on the INTERPOL database and can be accessed via I-24/7.

For a full list of notices please see the INTERPOL website.

Immigration Enforcement

Immigration Enforcement (IE) is part of the Borders, Immigration and Citizenship System (BICS) within the Home Office.

It consists of several departments that work together accessed through the Immigration Enforcement Command and Control Unit (IE NCCU).

This is a 24/7, year round SPOC for immigration inquiries for EEA and non-EEA nationals, staffed by immigration officers, who can provide advice on the immigration status of foreign nationals and options for further action.

You can contact IE NCCU 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year.

For contact details see the ICCC Knowledge hub community, Immigration and enforcement page (this link is available to authorised users who are logged on to the Knowledge Hub).

Other teams are:

Immigration Compliance and Enforcement (ICE)

These are regional teams across the UK responsible for the majority of frontline enforcement activity undertaken by IE. They are geographically spread, with some teams responsible for several police force areas.

Teams carry out intelligence led operations to attempt to detain for removal non-compliant foreign nationals with no leave to remain in the UK.

They respond to potential immigration offenders who are already in custody, including those who have been encountered as clandestine entrants.

They also enforce rules around the compliant environment, eg, against landlords and/or employers. The compliant environment is a framework of compliance and deterrence aimed at removing the incentives that draw people to the UK illegally, pushing non-compliant migrants towards leaving voluntarily and fostering further compliance of those migrants whose leave has not yet expired.

ICE teams are tasked through the IE NCCU.

Interventions and Sanctions Directorate (ISD)

This team focus on maintaining and promoting the ‘compliant environment’. (see ICE for a definition of the compliant environment).

Measures in the 2014 and 2016 Immigration Acts restricted access services in the UK to those without leave to remain in the UK. This includes access to:

  • private rented accommodation
  • bank accounts
  • NHS secondary care (primary care such as access to GPs and emergency care is not restricted)
  • driving licences
  • working in the UK
  • public funds.

If you find someone who does not have leave to remain in the UK, and you suspect they may have access to any of the above, please telephone IE NCCU who will provide advice.

Criminal casework and Community Protection Command

This team is responsible for deporting foreign national offenders (FNOs) who commit serious criminal offences. It monitors FNOs while they are in prison or in the community and progresses cases for the deportation of these offenders.

The Community Protection Command works with police forces across the country to look at three main strands of work;

  • ACRO-based deportations, looking at known convictions in other countries as a basis for deportation from the UK.
  • High harm deportations. This includes working with police forces to use their intelligence to influence immigration casework decisions.
  • EEA Op Missouri deportations. This is specific to EEA nationals who have had three or more convictions in the last three years.

Criminal and Financial Investigation (CFI)

CFI is the criminal investigation arm of IE. Notionally split into two parts, the criminal investigation and the financial investigation, they are crime trained immigration officers.

The team looks at all aspects of immigration crime and can advise on legislation and prosecution. Please contact IE NCCU if you need to speak to a crime trained Immigration Officer about potential offences.

Immigration intelligence

This team, made up of researchers and immigration officers, handles all of the incoming information relating to abuse of immigration law and immigration crime. They handle intelligence for all IE, including overseas operations. They assess and forward information to law enforcement partners, such as the police.

If you have any intelligence on abuse of immigration law or immigration crime, please visit

IE support for investigations or for the disruption of criminal activity

There are a wide array of tactical options that can be used to assist an investigation or disrupt criminal activity involving foreign nationals. Not all the options will be available in every case, but early recognition of the type of case and the potential outcomes will mean that the best solution for the public and the individual concerned is considered as early as possible.

In all cases, early contact should be made with the IE NCCU to discuss options and advice on the options available.

Identity and travel documents

These prove the identity of the person in question and are crucial in facilitating removal from the UK.

Deportation and removals

Deportation based on conviction and custodial sentence

Since the 2007 UK Borders Act, the issue of a deportation order for a foreign national is mandatory in the following circumstances, where the person is:

  • not a British citizen
  • convicted of an offence in the UK and
  • sentenced to imprisonment of at least 12 months.

As long as the person does not meet any of the exception criteria listed in section 33 of the 2007 UK Borders Act, the deportation order will be issued. You will not need to make a separate referral as criminal casework will take responsibility for the case automatically.

Legislatively the same criteria apply to EEA nationals as non-EEA nationals. The threshold for deportation is, however, more stringent for EEA nationals due to freedom of movement and rights to reside under the EEA Regulations 2016. Gathering as much information as possible about the length of residency in the UK, employment and familial ties, during the investigation and charge stages, will help decision making. If an EEA national is convicted of a crime in the UK and sentenced, criminal casework will take the case forward.

High harm deportation

The Community Protection Command, part of criminal casework, can issue deportation orders for foreign nationals who are classed as ‘high harm’, regardless of their immigration status or (lack of) convictions.

As defined in the Home Office (2017) Operation Nexus high harm guidance, FNOs are considered as ‘high harm’ cases where their conduct incurs significant adverse impact, whether physical, emotional or financial, upon individuals or the wider community.

The definition has been drafted purposefully to allow forces to concentrate on their own areas of high harm, rather than a prescribed list of offences or behaviour.

The Operation Nexus – high harm guide provides forces with referral instructions and how to identify whether a subject meets the Operation Nexus criteria.

Persistent EEA national offenders

Operation Missouri is an initiative where persistent EEA national offenders can be deported as a result of previous convictions. Currently, the criteria are three convictions in the previous three years. However, if forces are unsure of whether a subject meets the Operation Missouri criteria please call the IE NCCU. They will ask for PNC records and assess individual cases. It will support the assessment if information can be provided on how long they’ve been in the UK for, what family they have in the UK, caring commitments and whether or not they are employed.

Administrative removal of EEA nationals

Although administrative removal makes up the majority of those removed from the UK, deportation orders are still a key tactic for tackling foreign national criminality. A deportation order will be issued for higher harm offenders and invalidate any previously granted leave. They prohibit someone from entering the UK for however long the order is in force. Please note that they cannot be issued to naturalised British citizens.

Administrative removal of non-EEA nationals

When a non-EEA national does not have leave to remain in the UK, they require administrative removal from the UK under S10 of the 1999 Immigration and Asylum Act, as amended by the 2014 Immigration Act. There are many variables, barriers and specifics around administrative removal. Factors such as documentation, nationality, outstanding appeals and family circumstances all have a bearing on the decision to remove someone from the UK.

In all cases, early contact with the IE Command and Control Unit is the first step and they will advise further, potentially referring the case to the local ICE team.

Voluntary returns

Where a non-EEA national has no lawful basis to remain in the UK, they may be referred to the voluntary returns service (VRS). This is the most cost effective method of removing someone from the UK and allows the person to leave on their own terms, with dignity.

The criterion of who can get help from VRS is here. There is also a link to apply online. The case will then be managed by the VRS. Updates on a case can be obtained from IE NCCU. In most cases the person will be on immigration bail while their case is being managed.

Enforced removal

If voluntary return is not an option, then removal can be enforced. This may involve a period of detention in an immigration removal centre.

Criminal and Financial Investigation prosecution

CFI teams can prosecute individuals for a range of offences, including (but not limited to):

  •  modern slavery and human trafficking
  •  documentation offences, including the production of forged and counterfeit documents
  •  facilitation of illegal immigrants into the UK
  •  assisting unlawful immigration.
  •  seizure of bank accounts and assets.
  •  persistent employment of illegal workers.

Driving licence revocation, NHS debtors and denial of financial services

Interventions and Sanctions Directorate (ISD) can take a range of action against those who are disqualified from accessing certain services in the UK.

Driving licence revocation

Non-EEA nationals without leave to remain in the UK are not entitled to hold a UK driving licence. Please refer any potential cases to immigration intelligence, or if in custody, to IE NCCU. Do not confiscate licences; the IE NCCU will advise on the correct course of action.

NHS access

Illegal migrants cannot access free secondary care through the NHS. Access to GPs and primary or emergency care is permitted. If you suspect someone has accessed secondary care, refer the case to immigration intelligence. They will pass the information to ISD who will assess the case and if appropriate, look to recover funds to pay for the treatment.

Denial of financial services

Under Schedule 7 of the Immigration Act 2016, illegal migrants cannot open or continue to hold/operate a banking current account. If you suspect that an illegal migrant holds a banking current account, please refer the case to immigration intelligence who will pass on the information to ISD to take action, if appropriate.

Illegal working and right to rent civil penalties

Illegal working

A civil penalty can be imposed on an employer who has not completed statutory checks to confirm whether a person has the right to work in the UK. The maximum fine is £20,000 per employee.

Right to rent

A civil penalty can be imposed on a landlord who has not completed statutory checks to confirm whether a person has the right to rent in the UK. The maximum fine is £3000 per tenant.

Closure notices and compliance orders

Pending a compliance order from a Magistrates Court, immigration officers have the right to temporarily close businesses that continue to employ illegal migrants. This is an escalation from civil penalties in trying to create a compliant environment. The power is based on Part 4 of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014.

Licensing sanctions

Section 36 and Schedule 4 of the 2016 Immigration Act amends the Licensing Act 2003 for England and Wales to prevent illegal migrants working in premises licensed for the sale of alcohol or late night refreshment.

IE is the responsible authority for enforcement and can support recommendation of a licensing review or provide information for an existing licensing review. Joint working in this area is necessary to gather as much information as possible to support any subsequent licensing review.

Illegal or clandestine entry of foreign nationals

Foreign nationals may try to enter the UK through clandestine means. This may be a desperate choice at great financial cost, to seek asylum, or because they have been compelled, deceived or coerced by criminals for the purposes of servitude, slavery or other exploitation. Irrespective of the reasons, those entering the UK through this method are first and foremost victims, and should be treated as such.

Clandestine entry (also referred to as lorry drops) is likely to be the symptom of wider organised criminal operation to traffic people into this country. While clandestine entry is usually within the jurisdiction of Immigration Enforcement (IE), police forces may be the first responder for the majority of reports, eg, road side incidents or ‘walk in’s’ at a police station. This means they have key responsibilities in the initial response.

Policing priorities should focus on safeguarding vulnerable individuals and then conducting an investigation to identify the criminal exploiters as abusers. Some of those trafficked may also need to be dealt with as illegal migrants.


Appropriate safeguarding should be instigated for all vulnerable adults and children.

In particular unaccompanied children are alone in an unfamiliar country and are surrounded by people unable to speak their first language. While some children are brought into the UK for sexual or physical exploitation, or using the UK as a way point, some may be brought in as part of large scale benefit fraud by private fostering entities or by those masquerading as the child’s family with intent to traffic the child. The wellbeing of the child is paramount before any criminal investigation is considered. Police MUST balance the welfare of the child against any potential criminality.

Take fingerprints before they leave police protection. This can only be done if a parent or guardian, or a person who for the time being takes responsibility for the child is present. Children should not be arrested, if there is a risk of further exploitation consider a Police Protection Order (PPO).

The police service has a standardised safeguarding approach  (see MLE accessed response plan) to manage migrant children at the scene of a clandestine event. Through a multi-agency approach a welfare form has been designed to give clear guidance on the recommended approach for dealing with children at the first encounter. It is important this process is followed with all children as it will reduce the risk of children going missing within the first 24 hours. This also enables a professional risk assessment to be built, which in turn provides social services with a better understanding of the child’s immediate needs.

Scene preservation

When dealing with the initial response to clandestine entry it is important to preserve the scene for subsequent investigation. Consider the arrest of the driver(s) to facilitate securing and reserving relevant evidence.

Vehicles should be treated as a crime scene. Attending officers should preserve and recover relevant material (eg, mobile phones, pocket litter, glued locks, bags or containers used to limit the CO2 emission, false documentation, tachograph records, food and blankets). It is advisable that a thorough search of the vehicle is conducted to ensure maximum evidence is collected and recorded for future law enforcement activity. This material may provide rich data and/or intelligence.

Detention of illegal migrants

The arrest of any illegal migrants should be considered at the first available opportunity to facilitate an effective investigation, however welfare and safeguarding of illegal migrants should always be considered, as well as the potential future risk to illegal migrants from the criminals who may have arranged their transport and illegal entry. Consider also the requirements of PACE Code G. In many cases consideration should be given to mobilising extra resources to ensure the scene is contained.

Contact IE

IE should be contacted at the first available opportunity. Their 24/7 NCCU can offer advice on the following

  • safeguarding vulnerable migrants at the scene via the Home Office Accommodation Team
  • guidance and support at the scene of an event
  • direction for dealing with clandestine entrants
  • completion of urgent FNO checks
  • assistance with the collection and dissemination of intelligence
  • notifying the local ICE team (Immigration Compliance and Enforcement teams)
  • request support from CFI (IE Criminal and Financial Investigation)
  • help with disruption techniques.


Page last accessed 02 December 2020