James Frier, a deputy assistant director of the FBI, said individual law enforcement bodies were unable to offer protection against international organised crime and had to establish improved working relationships with their colleagues in other countries.
Speaking at the International Police Exhibition and Conference in London, Mr Frier said international co-operation was needed immediately because of the global ambitions of organised crime and the opportunities created by the collapse of communism. In Europe, the abolition of border controls provided 'unparalleled opportunities' for organised crime to expand.
He said: 'As this decade ends, we will see the Italian organised crime groups expand their overall international influence and power through agreements with the stronger Russian and Eurasian criminal organisations, as well as the Asian criminal groups, the South American cartels and the Cosa Nostra.
'The organisations will undoubtedly be more multi-nationally based, with greater diversification into legitimate international business activities and with the increased capacity to thwart the best efforts of any one or two national law enforcement organisations.'
The best solution to reduce assaults on officers was improved training rather than issuing United States-style side-handled batons, the conference was told.
Alan Dyer, Chief Constable of Bedfordshire and chairman of the Association of Chief Police Officers' self-defence sub-committee, said a survey of constables in his force, conducted at the height of the debate over their use, had found that many were uneasy about being issued with the batons, despite the strong calls by some sections of the service.
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