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Exchange of operational information is pivotal for successful fight against international crime. In 2013 alone, about 300,000 pieces of information were exchanged through Europol, out of which nearly 5,000 were exchanged by Slovenia, which places us in the 6th place by number of inhabitants. 

It will be 10 years in June since the Slovenian Police became a full member of Europol, whose primary function is the exchange of criminal information. "Cooperation has been fruitful and beneficial for both sides. It is nice to hear positive comments on Slovenia when at the highest level meetings Slovenia is highlighted as a member state that has provided key information based on which several persons across Europe have been apprehended," Slavko Koroš, Assistant Director of Criminal Police Directorate of the General Police Directorate, said on the conclusion of the expert meeting held at the Police Academy on the occasion of 10th anniversary of our participation in Europol.

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No national police force is able to curb international organised crime on its own, as organised crime groups are very adaptable, well organised and have ample financial resources. "It is precisely the fast and secure exchange of information about crime and criminal suspects that enables a joint response of various police forces, not only within the EU but also globally," Robert ─îrepinko, Head of Organised Crime Groups Unit in Europol, said at today's press conference.

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Such seminars (so called "road shows") are regular awareness-raising events during which Europol with its experts presents its work and services offered by the agency to the member states. During two days, on 24 and 25 April 2014, foreign and Slovenian experts from the Slovenian Police and Europol took part in an expert meeting held at the Police Academy to seek new opportunities for effective cooperation in future investigations of international organised crime as well devote some time to sharing experience and case studies. There were four workshops, which addressed the following topics: computer crime, especially attacks on computer systems and prevention of sexual abuse of children on the internet, working with informants, property crime, and a general presentation of Europol's work, including the role of liaison officers in Europol.

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The Slovenian Police was particularly active  in the working group on the prevention of sexual abuse of children on the internet, called "Focal Point Twins". A member of the working group, Europol analyst Katarzyna Staciwa, in discussion with the Slovenian experts presented new cases of abuse, given that the perpetrators of such crimes are constantly adapting to technological development and especially seeking ways to conceal their identity.

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Europol's task is to fight organised crime affecting at least two or three EU member states and to support EU member states in preventing and combating all forms of serious international crime and terrorism. The European Police Office, Europol, has become the criminal information hub of the entire European Union while providing support to complex international operations of its partners.

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A good example of cooperation between the member states, Europol and the third countries was the operation called "Skandinavc". This was the first case of cooperation with the third countries that used exclusively Europol channels: "Over 50 pieces of information were exchanged, Europol analysts drew up 10 analytical reports, exchange of data on persons and used telephone numbers generated 15 hits in Europol's information system while Europol also funded five operational meetings. Slovenia was highlighted as an example of good cooperation in various other investigations as well", Koroš added.

One of cases that attracted a lot of media attention was an international criminal investigation into football match fixing. Furthermore, three crime groups dealing with illegal drug trafficking were detected with the assistance of Europol data in extensive investigations last year

"In the area of property crime investigation, Slovenian police officers attended the first training course on motor vehicle theft investigation in 2002, organised by Europol and the working group for the preparation of the EUVID catalogue," Ale┼í Kegljevi─Ź, Head of Property Crime Section at the Criminal Police Directorate of the General Police Directorate, said and added: "Cooperation with Europol is mostly based on sharing operational data and analyses of individual criminal offences in the area of motor vehicle theft investigation and armed robbery investigation. In armed robbery investigation we received direct assistance by Europol's analytical service in the case of investigating the 2005 robbery of SKB bank."

In the area of computer crime, investigations still focus on online banking fraud by hacking and installing malicious codes and programmes, which, according to Raymond Ijsselstijn, Europol's analyst, is dealt with by the working group "Focal Point Cyborg". Slovenia does not only assist with information on crime offenders but also with data on information infrastructure, internet providers and servers that could be used by foreign perpetrators.

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A quality response from any Europol member state can be received by Slovenia within an hour, added Matja┼ż Vidic, the Slovenian liaison officer in Europol: "Europol is increasingly used, which is positive, as such cooperation allows sharing key data that would normally take much longer to exchange. With international police cooperation we can quickly establish that a certain new modus operandi that is being used by criminals is already known in other countries. By using secure channels we can very quickly acquire new data on crime group members and on the perpetration of criminal offences. In the recent period we have noted that Europol was involved in all key and major police operations in Slovenia. Quality responses that we receive to our requests to foreign countries can be largely instrumental in investigations. The liaison officer represents a bridge between Slovenia and Europol, which means that all information from Slovenia to Europol and vice-versa is channelled through the liaison officer. There are 150 liaison officers, each country has at least two of them. The Slovenian liaison officers deal with between 5 and 7 new cases weekly, whereas Europol deals with 16,000 new cases every year."

Europol's seat is located in the Hague, the Netherlands. Liaison officers of all member states, third countries and organisations that have concluded an agreement with Europol are based in Europol. Each member state is obliged to set up a national unit through which information exchange takes place. The Europol National Unit Slovenia is part of the International Police Cooperation Division of the Criminal Police Directorate and represents the national point of contact between Europol and the competent national authorities in Slovenia: internal organisational units of the Police, Customs Administration of the Republic of Slovenia and Office for Money Laundering Prevention.

Europol's Operational Centre, which provides a high level of security, is the central point for information exchange between Europol, EU member states and third countries, and, like the Europol National Unit in Slovenia, operates around the clock. "Data can also be efficiently exchanged through their secure information exchange channel and they can appear in a matter of minutes on an operative's desk in any Europol member state," Koroš underlined as one of the main advantages of working with Europol.