No breach of guns database

AN internal police investigation into alleged firearm database breaches shifted its focus to Service Tasmania before concluding there was no evidence the system had been misused. 

Redacted documents released under freedom-of-information laws reveal the database was only intended to be used temporarily when it was introduced in 1996.

The database, which was dogged by rumours it had been breached, was replaced in June 2013 by the Firearms and Weapons Database.

Early last year an internal police investigation was launched to examine whether sensitive firearm information  from the database had been distributed to an outside party. 

The rumours stemmed from news reports that gun thefts were taking place soon after registration. 

The investigation analysed 23 firearm thefts between December 2012 and May 2013 .

Eight of the firearm thefts occurred just after their owners' licences had been checked on the database or had made contact with Service Tasmania. 

According to the investigation, Service Tasmania was involved in firearm registrations  but only in a limited way and with no access to the database.  

This appears to have changed since the introduction of the database with Service Tasmania staff now able to access the system to retrieve names, photos and birth dates of gun owners. 

However, Service Tasmania said security arrangements were in place and all licensing transactions could be traced back to individual staff. 

While a Tasmania Police report states Service Tasmania staff are not subject to criminal background checks according to the Department of Premier and Cabinet the employees have undergone a National Criminal History check since 2010. 

The internal documents state every police officer has a basic level of access to the database. 

The basis for the investigation's finding that the firearm database had not been breached was:

 Only 23 of the 900 burglaries between December 2012 and May 2013 involved firearm thefts. 

 The 15 offenders charged over the gun burglaries acted independently with no level of organised criminality.

 The thefts were spread evenly across the state with no pattern or link to a particular police officer, station or administrative section.

 The database did not contain information on where on a property the firearms were stored.

 There was bound to be burglaries around the time because 2012-13 was a part of a major relicensing year with more than 22,000 firearm processes. 

pbillings@examiner.com.au

Smartphone
Tablet - Narrow
Tablet - Wide
Desktop