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CrimTrac issues National Firearms Interface RFT

by Pallavi Singhal •
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CrimTrac has approached the market for a National Firearms Interface (NFI) to replace its National Firearms Licence and Registration System (NFLRS), as part of its ongoing push to implement a “national view of policing”.

The agency, responsible for information-sharing among separate law enforcement bodies across the country, has also established a new National Missing Person and Victim System and approached the market for Biometric Identification Services in recent months. This push to implement major databases at a national level will affect related procurements across Australian law enforcement agencies, with many new solutions likely to require some level of integration into CrimTrac’s systems.

The most recent Request for Tender (RFT) is for a National Firearms Interface underpinned by a Commercial Off-the-Shelf software solution that will enable the sharing of data and standardisation of recording and reporting practices relating to firearms management across different jurisdictions.

It will “replace and enhance the database functions of the NFLRS”, which will be progressively integrated into the new system and decommissioned after approximately six months. The NFLRS was introduced as an inter-jurisdictional information repository in 1996, but issues relating to gaps in data and misclassification have reduced its effectiveness as a national tool.

The new NFI will operate alongside and integrate with the National Firearms Identification Database and the Australian Ballistics Identification Network.

The NFI is expected to include automatic firearm matching and linking, searchable records, the ability to request reports, and to be configurable. It should be accessible to multiple agencies through a graphic user interface or web services, and users should be able to upload, update and delete records on the central system, according to RFT documents.

The RFT specifies a preference for the new system to be hosted on CrimTrac infrastructure, with an initial migration of data from relevant agencies to fall under the remit of the current project.

Agencies that will be involved in the implementation and use of the system include all federal, state and territory police agencies, the federal Attorney-General’s Department, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, and the Australian Crime Commission.

RFT submissions close on 24 September 2015 and a contract with the selected vendor is expected to be signed in December 2015. The contract term will be for five years with extension options for a further five years. The initial system implementation is expected to be completed by 30 June 2016.

CrimTrac has also recently implemented or begun the process of procuring a number of other national information-sharing solutions.

The agency issued a RFT for Biometric Identification Services that will provide an upgrade of the existing National Automated Fingerprint Identification System in June 2015. The new solution is expected to provide a national tool for identification using biometric fingerprint and facial recognition, which will combine existing biometric data and include “the capability for expansion into the future to add additional Biometric Modes over time”.

The new system will be expected to retain the benefits of the current system, including the ability to link a person to forensic evidence, capture and search prints and reduce investigation time.

The existing fingerprint identification system was originally established in 1987 and contains 6.5 million fingerprints. It has been supported by Morpho since May 2011 under a $30.4 million four-year contract, which was recently extended for a further two years to May 2017.

Additionally, CrimTrac recently implemented a new National Missing Person and Victim System that will aim to link new and long-term missing persons to unidentified human remains, and is also expected to handle bulk input in cases involving mass casualties.

The spate of new national systems align with the government’s National Organised Crime Response Plan 2015-18, which emphasises the need for shared inter-jurisdictional intelligence to improve the response to crimes such as illegal weapons ownership and trafficking, and the coordination of efforts to combat cybercrime and other across-border activities.

The plan notes the importance of updated technology at a national level to achieve these goals.

“Some systems currently in use were developed as long ago as 1985 and need to be updated to ensure effectiveness in light of modern technology and changing law enforcement requirements,” it states.

While this national approach to crime intelligence may eliminate the need for agencies to procure data collection and analysis solutions on an individual basis, the requirement for systems and hardware to underpin the collection of information that will feed into the national databases will continue to be seen.

This has been recently demonstrated by NSW Police’s August 2015 Request for Proposal for a ‘Portable Multi-functional Biometric Capture Device’ including the provision of hardware and software licences, and the integration of the solution into the agency’s current fingerprint processes and mobile systems. The RFP also includes the need for the new solution to integrate NSW Police’s data into CrimTrac’s National Automated Fingerprint Identification System.

The value of upgraded technology has also been seen recently in the reopening of a 31-year-old case that involved a shooting murder and multiple bombings, including an explosion at the Family Court in Parramatta in 1984. A suspect was identified in July 2015 using new forensic technology and DNA from the crime sites.

“The evidence that we’ve gathered includes significant new evidence, historic evidence that has been enhanced using technology that was probably not available 30 years ago,” NSW Police Deputy Commissioner Nick Kaldas told The Australian.

Related Articles:

Better systems and ICT linkages needed: National crime response plan

CrimTrac seeks DNA investigative capability

Two new ICT opportunities at CrimTrac

New IT system to help find missing persons

CrimTrac moves forward with biometrics overhaul

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