Police intelligence has existed for many years as a law enforcement strategy. Nevertheless, the sophistication in the use of police information and intelligence has constantly increased during the last half century. Intelligence techniques and methodologies have been developed in order to identify criminal threats or to profile the various existing offenses. Strategically and tactically, the police intelligence service has great implications to allow the orientation of the activities of law enforcement for the reduction, prevention and disruption of criminal activities. Through the effective implementation of intelligence strategies, not only a more rational allocation of police resource is allowed, but an interpretation of the criminal environment that is nurturing strategic decision-making processes relating to criminal policy is also provided.
The United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) and its Protocols, provide the first comprehensive global instruments to more effectively address the scourge of transnational organized crime. As guardian of this Convention, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) is mandated to provide technical assistance to Member States in order to strengthen their capacities in the fight against transnational organized crime and illicit trafficking. In this regard, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime for Central America and the Caribbean in Panama (UNODC ROPAN) believes that the incentive for institutional strengthening of the public security institutions towards a service coordinated and guided by intelligence is fundamental.
In this context, and given the continuous support provided by UNODC to the public security institutions in Panama, from April 2012, the Project Santo Domingo Pact and Mechanism SICA-UNODC (PSD / MSU) of UNODC ROPAN was requested to support the institutional development plan carried out by the National Intelligence Office (DNIP) of the National Police of Panama. This entity is responsible for coordinating all aspects of strategic and operational intelligence of the police service.
In December 2011, the DNIP initiated a full review with a view to develop a doctrine of intelligence optimization of internal processes, as well as improved coordination across functional areas.
Specifically, the review covered the following elements:
(i) Integration of multiple databases maintained or consulted by the DNIP;
(ii) Joint use of the database within the analytical and operational processes;
(iii) Comprehensive Improvement of research capacities of the Analysis Section;
(iv) Reorganization of the network of Police informers;
(v) Introduction of a single intelligence doctrine;
(vi) Development and optimization of a counterintelligence system;
(vii) Design and development of a training program for the DNIP's staff, which allows to acquire recognized academic qualifications.
The process has been entitled as Plan Orion.
In this area, UNODC ROPAN has joined Plan Orion as a strategic partner in close cooperation with the Organised Crime and Illicit Trafficking Branch based in UNODC headquarters in Vienna, with the aim of increasing the capacity of Panama to combat and prevent drug trafficking and transnational organized crime by providing technical assistance and analysis of intelligence and promoting knowledge in criminal trends and threats affecting the country as a base for the development of public policy. This partnership is reflected through the provision of support and continuous supervision to initiative; delivery of periodic assessments to validate the plan, verification and monitoring of international best practices, and through the support for the strengthening of police intelligence capabilities and strategic analysis.
It is also noteworthy to mention that all activities have been developed by request and in close coordination with the DNIP and the Ministry of Public Security in Panama, making Plan Orion an example of well-coordinated effort to improve and professionalize the role of police intelligence in Panama.