We improve our understanding of the picture of crime impacting Australia by undertaking analysis to guide a better response.
We improved the understanding of the national picture of serious and organised crime impacting Australia through a broad range of products. We produced comprehensive, relevant and integrated products that increased the understanding of the picture of crime impacting Australia, in line with the priority crime themes identified by the ACIC Board.
The number of analytical intelligence products finalised was below four-year trends, reflecting the ACIC’s strategic decision to prioritise development of high-value and high-quality products. Our statistical results show variance across the criminal intelligence priority themes, which is expected as we focus on different areas from year to year. Work to improve the capture of the product themes within the performance database has resulted in fewer products being assigned to the ‘other’ category.
Many respondents to the stakeholder survey cited the production of quality intelligence products as something that we did particularly well in 2018–19, and said that they had found the reports to be informative, thorough but to the point, and actionable.
However, the survey reported a six percentage point decline in stakeholders agreeing that ‘ACIC intelligence products provide a comprehensive and relevant understanding of crime impacting Australia’. While the reports currently produced by the ACIC are generally seen to be of high quality, many stakeholders feel that there are more crime types for which the ACIC could provide intelligence products. This indicates that our focus on quality products is welcomed but stakeholders would like to see intelligence products across more diverse themes.
The survey findings also suggested that boosting engagement and collaboration with partners is a valuable opportunity to increase the value that ACIC intelligence products deliver to partners. The decline in the overall results of our stakeholders’ assessments of products contributed to this criterion being deemed only partially met.
We collected criminal intelligence and combined it with information and intelligence from partner agencies to create and share a comprehensive national picture of criminality in Australia. Figures 2.5 and 2.6 show the numbers of unique products that we finalised.
Figure 2.5: Analytical and tactical intelligence products finalised
Figure 2.6: Intelligence products focused on priority crime themes
Significant serious and organised crime
We maintained the National Target System, National Criminal Target List and APOT list, and delivered automated alerts to our partners on the activities of highest risk criminals. In addition, we produced intelligence to improve the understanding of high-risk criminals, including criminal brokers and professional facilitators; the potential impacts of overseas drug importations; and vulnerabilities to criminal exploitation.
For example, the Sports Betting Integrity Unit produced a wide range of intelligence products demonstrating the scope and complexity of the sports integrity environment. These products supported the unit’s stakeholders and covered topics such as the exploitation of sports governance structures; the presence of foreign individuals potentially engaged in match fixing in Australia; suspicious money movements; domestic links to corrupt offshore sporting events; and the criminal exploitation of bookmakers.
We produced intelligence to improve understanding of money laundering impacting Australia; investment and financial services crime; card fraud; revenue fraud and tax evasion; and commonalities in junket representatives.
For example, the ACIC provided a submission to the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation’s Sixth Review of the Casino Operator and Licence, highlighting vulnerabilities related to junket operations. The submission informed a recommendation made by the commission in its report, released in July 2018, that casino operator Crown undertake (with external assistance) a robust review of relevant internal control statements to address money laundering risks.
We produced intelligence to improve understanding of business email compromise scams; malware; anonymity features in cryptocurrencies; encryption on the Darknet; cybercriminal exploitation of government systems; and unique Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network (ACORN) data insights.
In 2018–19, the Cybercrime Intelligence Hub applied crime scripting to cybercrime to identify opportunities for prevention, intervention and disruption. This was the first time this technique had been applied in a cybercrime or operational context. Partner agencies responded by forming a working group to identify how the scripts could be used to guide and inform cybercrime investigations.
A state police force provided feedback stating that cybercrime crime scripts were directly relevant to a current investigation and would be used to develop investigative training packages. The scripts were instrumental in developing a coordinated Australia and New Zealand response.
A workshop was held with over 60 participants representing 16 law enforcement or government agencies across three countries. The crime scripts provided the foundation for the workshop discussion and the framework for best practice and coordinated responses to cybercrime targeting Australia.
We produced intelligence to improve understanding of illicit drug precursors; anabolic steroids and performance-enhancing drugs; the Darknet opioid drug market; prescribing patterns of opioids; bulk carrier transport of illicit drugs; and the outlook for and potential expansion of the Australian heroin market.
In collaboration with the Australian Federal Police and Department of Home Affairs, we developed a consultation draft strategic assessment on illicit gamma hydroxybutyrate (GHB) and other drug precursors. The assessment identifies regulatory gaps and weaknesses which contribute to the illicit trafficking and use of chemical precursors to illicit drugs, focusing on a range of precursor chemicals associated with different drug types.
We produced intelligence on gangs to improve understanding of fraudulent use of identities; welfare fraud; ownership of thoroughbreds; and undeclared income.
The inaugural ACIC National Gangs Report, a classified report that promotes a clearer picture of the Australian gang landscape, was released to Australian and international partners. Development of the report involved significant liaison with state and territory law enforcement partners to develop a comprehensive picture of gangs currently operating in each jurisdiction.
We produced intelligence to improve understanding of blank-firing firearms; firearm types linked to organised crime groups and outlaw motorcycle gangs (OMCGs); firearm trafficking vulnerabilities within Australia; handguns in the Australian illicit firearm market; and the illegal manufacture of firearms in Asia.
Information on the likely availability of a particular type of illicitly manufactured handguns in Australia was provided to the Department of Home Affairs in the form of an updated version of a 2006 intelligence report. Since the initial report, approximately 15 such items have been referred to the ACIC’s National Firearm Trace Program by various jurisdictions. It is likely that the illicit manufacturing of firearms to serve the illicit market will continue, and that a number of the items identified in the original report are still in circulation.
Other criminal threats to Australia
We produced intelligence to improve understanding of criminal threats to Australia such as threats to national security; the emerging threats to sports entities within Australia; vulnerabilities to terrorism financing; visa and migration fraud; child exploitation material; corruption risks; and the use of high-end secure communications in serious and organised crime.
The ACIC played a pivotal role in informing the Review of Australia’s Sports Integrity Arrangements (the Wood Review). We provided a briefing and submission to the review team, outlining the current and emerging threats to the integrity of Australian sport, with a focus on domestic links (including organised criminal links) to offshore unregulated wagering platforms and the consequent threats to the integrity of Australian sport. Follow-up briefings were provided to the Minister for Sport and ministerial officers from across government, including the Prime Minister’s Office and the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, following the release of the Wood Review.
Stakeholder survey results
‘ACIC intelligence products are always well-written and topical.’—Australian Government stakeholder, 2019 Stakeholder Survey
‘The ACIC is continuing to focus on the quality and utility of its intelligence reports.’—Australian Government stakeholder, 2019 Stakeholder Survey
Our performance in guiding partner and stakeholder strategies by providing information and intelligence continued across a range of crime themes and was strengthened by our National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program reports and the APOT list.
We continued to collaborate with Australian and international partners through formal and informal arrangements. We received particularly good feedback from stakeholders on the quality of our collaboration with partners.
Our stakeholder survey results remained steady for the proportion of respondents who agreed that ‘ACIC intelligence and information inform policy/legal response to criminal activity threatening Australia’, at 76 per cent.
The proportion of stakeholders agreeing that ‘ACIC intelligence products on crime impacting Australia influence their approach to tackling crime’ rose by 3 percentage points.
Building understanding of the picture of crime impacting Australia and influencing strategies and responses to crime are core elements of achieving our vision of a safer Australia. The ACIC produces intelligence, shares intelligence with partners and participates in multiagency task forces. These collaborative actions support partners and improve our collective ability to make Australia safer.
In the second half of 2018, the ACIC provided intelligence to support multiagency activity looking into financially motivated phishing campaigns targeting Australia. Our timely and innovative intelligence discovery produced multiple outcomes for domestic and international partners. Most notably, it illuminated the global reach of SMS phishing activity and opened new avenues for inquiry.
The ACIC has established a project that aims to make Australia unattractive for the promotion and use of abusive financial arrangements. This work has identified institutions that are suspected of being used for criminal activities, including tax evasion, cybercrime, foreign exchange fraud, Ponzi schemes, and the laundering of the proceeds of those crimes. Work in this area is continuing and involves collaboration with Australian and international partners.
For some time, law enforcement agencies have sought to understand the status and methodologies of OMCGs operating in Australia. The need to improve this understanding was highlighted by a spate of violent OMCG-related incidents during 2018–19. The ACIC adopted a proactive response and used a wide range of strategies to respond. The work resulted in an improved understanding of the membership and leadership structures of key OMCGs, and developed contemporary intelligence relating to methodologies, facilitators and locations relevant to their drug distribution, firearms and money-laundering activities.
The ACIC’s international focus includes long-term and short-term deployments to international partner agencies. This has included joint operations with overseas partners against offshore serious and organised crime threats targeting Australia through the importation of illicit goods, cybercrime activity, and the movement of illicit funds through money laundering. The deployments also provide significant opportunities to collect intelligence by gaining access to large amounts of data, intelligence products, capabilities and expertise.
The deployments have extended the ACIC’s international engagement beyond the agencies that host ACIC secondees. The ACIC is able to access additional law enforcement agencies in the host country and develop relationships with other countries’ law enforcement agencies operating in the host country.
During 2018–19, secondees supported a range of activities, including:
identification of APOTs and other major serious and organised crime entities
mapping of the interconnectedness of serious and organised cybercrime groups targeting countries in the Five Eyes intelligence alliance (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States)
investigations and intelligence activities into Darknet vendors selling illicit drugs to Australian customers
international tax crime intelligence activities conducted through the Joint Chiefs of Global Tax Enforcement
Five Eyes Law Enforcement Group joint strategic intelligence activities into serious and organised crime impacting Five Eyes countries.
The ACIC firearms subject matter expert collaborated with authorities from two Pacific nations to contribute towards establishing United Nations funded firearms databases to assist those nations to meet reporting requirements of the international Arms Trade Treaty.
We also supplied the current firearms make-and-manufacturer list used within our National Firearms Identification Database to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. This will allow Pacific island countries which are signatories to the Arms Trade Treaty to use common naming conventions within their annual reports.
Since early 2018, the ACIC has facilitated two-monthly Dare-to-Share (DTS) sessions, providing an opportunity for collaboration between foreign law enforcement and intelligence community members based in Australia and their Australian counterparts. The DTS group currently has more than 40 members, representing more than 20 countries.
At each session, the ACIC, Australian Border Force, Australian Federal Police and Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre present information on the latest trends, developments and products relevant to the home agencies of the foreign representatives. The sessions enable the exchange of information and best practice, community and network building, and potential for bilateral or multilateral cooperation. To date, the DTS sessions have delivered multiple international (operational and strategic) collaboration opportunities for our agency.
Stakeholder survey results
‘The ACIC’s strategic intelligence products are of a high standard and informative and are relied upon for my organisation’s decision-making.’—Australian Government stakeholder, 2019 Stakeholder Survey