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First nationwide ballistics matching system launches in July

by Sam Murphy •
Free resource

A component of the previous Labor government’s 2013-14 Budget measures to address organised crime and gang violence in the community will go live

as of July 2014. Crimtrac was allocated $9.1 million over four years (including $4.5 million in capital funding in 2013‑14) for the establishment of an Australian Ballistics Identification Network (ABIN).

On 11 April 2014, Canadian firm Forensic Technology was awarded a four year contract for $9,804,184 to ‘supply and support a national ballistic information system’.  

The solution will be used as the foundation of a nationwide ballistics matching system to track illegal firearms and support police activities by providing national, state and territory law enforcement agencies with advanced technology to undertake ballistics analysis of firearms.

The national network will allow police from every jurisdiction to access a database of all weapons used in crimes recovered by police in each state and territory. This information will improve intelligence capability and enhance police targeting and compliance activities, according to the 2013-14 Federal Budget.

In announcing ABIN, Federal Minister for Justice Michael Keenan said ABIN "will link the Integrated Ballistics Identification Systems (IBIS) already in use by the Australian Federal Police, NSW Police Force, Queensland Police Service and South Australia Police, and allow for the input of ballistic data from all states and territories”.

While Keenan acknowledges that IBIS has been an “invaluable tool”, he said “the IBIS has its limitations – the information it outputs is only as good as the information that is input.”

The Network was first flagged by Labor’s Justice Minister Jason Clare in February 2013. During Parliament he said “This is effectively technology that enables police to identify, from the firearm they seize, the firearm's involvement in previous crimes. It is like DNA testing for stolen weapons.”

At the time, funding options for a National Firearms Interface were also being considered to consolidate 30 different databases across the country that are currently not linked. In April 2014 a $123,000 contract was signed between CrimTrac and RPV Consultants for project management services for the National Firearms Interface (NFI) Project, suggesting this component of the project has also proceeded.

The Australian Crime Commission (ACC) found that there were over 2.75 million registered firearms across the 30 databases, as at June 2012. Over 14,000 firearms are lost track of every year, according to CrimTrac.

Other 2013-14 funded initiatives to address organised crime and gang violence in the community included, according to the Budget papers,  “$64.0 million over four years to establish a National Anti‑Gang Taskforce to fight gang‑related crime across Australia, and a new Australian Gang Intelligence Centre. The funding will also provide additional resources for the Criminal Assets Confiscation Taskforce."

"The National Anti‑Gang Taskforce will comprise 70 members from the Australian Federal Police and State Police forces as well as officers from the Australian Crime Commission, the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service, the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, the Australian Taxation Office and Centrelink,” stated  the 2013-14 budget paper.

At an estimated ‘on cost’ of $120,000 per taskforce member, the staffing component of this initiative will be in the vicinity of $33.6 million, suggesting that approximately $31 million over four years is to be allocated to other aspects of the taskforce, including the intelligence Centre, which was launched on 12 December, 2013 by Minister Keenan. 

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