Red Notices are viewed as being at least theoretically valid based upon the requirement that they be approved by the General Secretariat prior to acceptance and/or publication by INTERPOL.

Another animal entirely is the diffusion. A diffusion is a notice shared by any one of INTERPOL’S member countries with the other member countries. It is comparable to a BOLO (be on the lookout), as we would say in the States.

A diffusion might be used, for example, if the Republic of South Korea were to inform member countries Sweden or Cameroon that South Korea is looking for an individual specifically in those countries, or if it seeks to share information only with those countries regarding an individual.

A diffusion often contains information similar to a Red Notice, is circulated via INTERPOL’s I-24/7 secure police communications network, and it might be sent to all member countries, or only to specific member countries.

The major difference between a diffusion and a Red Notice is that the General Secretariat does not review or approve a diffusion prior to its being disseminated to other member countries.

This distinction is critical because the lack of review may allow diffusions to be circulated that would otherwise be denied circulation if they were Red Notice requests. For example, if basic judicial information is missing from a diffusion, that absence of information is improper, but will not prevent its circulation because no review is required for a diffusion. This distinction means that diffusions that violate INTERPOL’s rules can and do get circulated undetected until they cause a problem for the subject of the diffusion.

As always, comments and thoughts are welcomed.