We help our partners by: Providing them with systems and services; Sharing criminal intelligence and information, policing and other relevant information; and Connecting partners to us and each other.
By providing our systems and services reliably, and ensuring that they are accessible and used by the appropriate police, law enforcement and intelligence agencies, we contribute to the effectiveness of our collective efforts to keep Australia safer from crime. During 2018–19, we continued to provide our services to a broad range of agencies and with a high level of availability.
Our system usage statistics have dropped for some systems. However, many of the reductions in usage are due to quality assurance work and the decommissioning of systems, and do not reflect a decline in system performance. In particular:
The number of accredited bodies serviced by the NPCS has dropped due to more stringent requirements resulting in some bodies terminating accreditation, and to some states consolidating their service programs into a smaller group of accredited bodies.
We completed audits of user accounts in the National Child Offender System, National Police Reference System and NCIDD, which resulted in the removal of user accounts that were inactive, unnecessary or no longer authorised.
The National Firearms Licensing Registration System and National Names Index are being decommissioned and, as expected, the numbers of users and searches have declined for those systems.
Our stakeholder survey results show an improvement in the reliability of services, consistent with our data. Other survey results are consistent with previous years and remain strong.
We group our systems into broad service categories:
Frontline systems enable police agencies to share essential policing information with each other in relation to people, vehicles, firearms and ballistics. This can assist them to undertake a broad range of community policing and criminal investigations.
Biometric and forensic systems help police to solve crimes through our biometric services, including fingerprint and DNA systems, and assist police to identify missing persons, human remains and disaster victims.
Protection systems assist police with finding information on domestic violence orders, managing child sex offenders and identifying child exploitation images.
Criminal intelligence systems facilitate dissemination and sharing of criminal intelligence, including databases of intelligence holdings that can be accessed and analysed by approved users.
We measure our performance against this criterion by assessing:
system availability—the proportion of time systems were available (maintaining system availability ensures reliable access to related services)
service beneficiaries—the range of agencies to which we provide services
service usage—the number of users in partner agencies and the number of system searches
stakeholder survey results—responses to specific questions related to system performance in our stakeholder survey.
System availability reporting provides the percentage of time systems were available, excluding scheduled outages. National availability is calculated based on user notifications of outages impacting multiple jurisdictions. As many of our systems are integrated or routed via partner agency systems, issues unrelated to our service can also affect availability.
An agreed availability benchmark is developed by the ACIC Board for each of our frontline systems and other systems that directly support police operations, including police checks. Benchmarks are based on usage requirements.
Results against the availability benchmarks are set out in Table 2.9.
Table 2.9: System availability
Our frontline, biometric and forensic, and criminal intelligence services are provided to all Australian police forces. Appropriate access is also available to some other agencies, including the Department of Home Affairs, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, and state-based crime and corruption bodies.
The NPCS is designed to assist employers and authorising bodies to make informed decisions about the suitability of staff and applicants. It is also used by police and ACIC-accredited bodies, including government agencies, private sector businesses and brokers, not-for-profit organisations, and screening units responsible for the assessment of people who apply to work with children or vulnerable people.
During 2018–19, 63 accredited bodies left the NPCS and 20 new accredited bodies joined. The introduction of more stringent identity-proofing requirements caused some accredited bodies to terminate their accreditation. Some states have introduced centralised service programs which have reduced the numbers of state-based government accredited bodies.
The number of bodies for whom checks were performed decreased during 2018–19, but remained in line with the historical average, as shown in Table 2.10.
Table 2.10: Stakeholder bodies for whom criminal history checks were performed
Our web-based Court Portal enables domestic violence orders in the National Police Reference System to be shared between police and courts across Australia. In 2018–19, the system was searched 7,733 times.
The public reported instances of cybercrime via ACORN up until 30 June 2019, when the Australian Signals Directorate's 'ReportCyber' system replaced ACORN. ACORN attracted 387,331 visitors in 2018–19, over 87,000 more than in 2017–18. We referred 35,512 ACORN reports to law enforcement agencies for appropriate action, as shown in Table 2.11.
Table 2.11: Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network reports received and referred
Table 2.12 provides details of the numbers of users of our systems in 2018–19.
The Child Exploitation Tracking System is used by only a limited number of users. This is intentionally limited due to the nature of the work the system supports, to minimise the emotional impact on staff caused by explicit materials. As a result, the number of users is not an effective performance measure, and the system is not included in the table.
The reduction in National Child Offender System users is the result of actions to remove inactive and unnecessarily created user accounts to meet the software licensing requirements. This work commenced during 2017–18 and was completed early in 2018–19.
The National Firearms Licensing Registration System was decommissioned during 2018–19. Police partner agency users have transitioned to the more sophisticated Australian Firearms Information Network. The final police partner agency will be migrated to the new network during 2021–22.
An audit of users was conducted on the NCIDD during 2018–19, purging individuals no longer authorised to access the system.
ACORN is also not included in the table, because the system is publicly available via the internet and user statistics do not relate to users in partner agencies.
The National Criminal Intelligence System (NCIS) interim solution is not yet an established system. The interim solution has over 700 active users.
Table 2.12: System users
Table 2.13 provides details of searches conducted by users of the ACIC’s established systems. Between July 2018 and June 2019, the NCIS interim solution attracted more than 54,353 searches.
During 2017–18, there was a substantial drop in National Police Reference System searches, which appeared to be due to technology changes in some of our partner agencies. Though the number of searches in 2018–19 was below the historical average, it was 21 per cent higher than in 2017–18.
The downturn in National Names Index and National Firearms Licensing Registration System searches was expected and is consistent with phasing out this capability. The large increase in Australian Firearms Information Network searches was expected as users are transitioning to the Australian Firearms Information Network from the National Firearms Licensing Registration System.
A significant spike in Australian Criminal Intelligence Database searches in 2017–18, due to some users initiating bulk searches, has significantly increased the historical average. Outside of that year’s spike, the number of searches in 2018–19 shows an increase over the other historical years’ results.
Table 2.13: Searches recorded
Nationally coordinated criminal history checks
The number of police checks conducted through ACIC systems continues to steadily increase by approximately 5 per cent to 10 per cent each year. In 2018–19, it exceeded 5.6 million, as shown in Table 2.14.
Table 2.14: Police history checks submitted
The NPCS timeliness measure shown in Table 2.15 is not only an ACIC performance measure, but also one shared by our police partners in providing this service to the wider community and other agencies.
When an initial search reveals a potential match (as occurs in approximately 30 per cent of checks), it is referred to the relevant jurisdiction for confirmation. If police confirm a match, they apply the relevant spent conviction legislation and/or relevant information release policies to determine what information can be disclosed, before finalising the check and returning the information directly to the accredited body, agency or individual who lodged the check. This process may be complicated and, in a small number of cases, may cause delays beyond the agreed timelines.
Table 2.15: Police history checks completed on time
Stakeholder survey results
Table 2.16: Stakeholder survey results—Connect 1
This measure primarily relates to stakeholders’ satisfaction with the delivery and implementation of new or enhanced systems and services. While we have delivered new and enhanced services and made substantial progress towards the delivery of others, we have only partially met the criterion, due to a decline in stakeholder satisfaction with our delivery of new and enhanced policing and intelligence systems.
Survey feedback indicates that 94 per cent of stakeholders find our information technology projects to be of value or great value to their. In order to maintain this high result, we will ensure that we continue to collaborate with stakeholders on the delivery of new and improved systems and services. The establishment of business hubs is expected to assist stakeholders to engage and collaborate with us.
By delivering and implementing new and enhanced national systems and services, we increased the capability of our partners and contributed to the effectiveness of our collective efforts to make Australia safer from crime.
Projects delivered to partners
In 2018–19, the ACIC completed vendor support agreements to enable the National Automated Fingerprint Identification System to continue to deliver fit-for-purpose biometric matching services.
We also finalised a high-level future operating model for the NPCS that has been endorsed by our police partner agencies. The collaborative stakeholder approach will continue into Tranche 2 of the NPCS Transformation Program to ensure successful delivery of capability.
The National Firearms Identification Database was upgraded to enable significant improvement in the identification and recording processes used by the Commonwealth and our state and territory partners.
The trial of the Biometrics at the Border System to improve the ability of Australian Border Force officers to perform security checks on travellers has ended. The capability is managed by the Department of Home Affairs and is supported by the National Automated Fingerprint Identification System.
We have finalised the business case—outlining the preferred option, associated costs and delivery timeframes—for an online solution to aid law enforcement in preventing the diversion of precursor chemicals and equipment into illicit drug manufacture in Australia. Requirements for recording the purchases of precursor chemicals and equipment, known as ‘end user declarations’, are being developed with advice from a national working group in which the ACIC is represented. States and territories are considering legislation to support online declarations.
Significant progress has been made on the business case for a child exploitation materials management system to replace the Child Exploitation Tracking System with a solution that provides improved capabilities to identify children at risk of sexual abuse and enable timely intervention strategies for victims. The business case will be ready by the middle of 2019–20.
We also completed a business case for an upgrade of the National Missing Persons and Victim System platform which will improve access to and functionality of the service.
The initiation and planning phases for Tranche 1 of the NCIS are complete and we have commenced program delivery activities pertaining to the mobilisation of police and law enforcement project teams. The ACIC is the lead agency accountable and responsible for delivering the NCIS, while the Department of Home Affairs will take a key role in delivering the NCIS capability.
The development of the Working with Children Checks National Reference System was completed in 2018–19. Integration with state and territory screening agencies will occur from July 2019, to ensure that legislation and policies are updated and aligned with the new system. The service supports decisions to approve applicants to work with children, including the national provision of negative notices to relevant stakeholders. The project will be completed by the end of June 2020.
We have substantially completed the development and implementation of a new platform for the National Vehicles of Interest System. Users are in the process of being transitioned from our aging mainframe platform to the new platform, which will be fully implemented by the end of 2019. This work will ensure that the system can manage expected future increases in queries and usage.
Our ongoing work to deliver improved jurisdictional availability to the Australian Law Enforcement Intelligence Network, as part of a larger activity to transition all business systems to a new network with improved performance, will also be completed by the end of 2019.
We decommissioned the National Firearms Licensing Registration System user interface in 2018–19. Police partner agency users are transitioning to the Australian Firearms Information Network, which is more sophisticated and holds richer, higher quality data. The final police partner agency will be migrated to the new network during 2021–22.
We paused our scoping study to improve the National Target System following stakeholder feedback that identified the need for the future (criminal target) operating model to be firstly refined and agreed in consultation with our stakeholders.
We also amended our delivery approach for the National Policing Information Hub so that it will be delivered as part of Tranche 1 of the NCIS. In conjunction with the Department of Home Affairs NCIS delivery team, we identified a new architectural direction for the completion of the master data management capability, using an existing departmental solution.
Stakeholder survey results
‘The ACIC has worked hard to learn from theBiometric Identification Services experience, and the governance work on the National Criminal Intelligence System and the successful pilot have been a good start.’—Australian Government stakeholder, 2019 Stakeholder Survey
‘The ACIC has improved its engagement and communication, especially regarding projects underway.’—State government stakeholder, 2019 Stakeholder Survey
‘The set-up of the National Police Reference System Data Quality Project seems to have been done well, and it seems to be willing to address the big issues.’—State government stakeholder, 2019 Stakeholder Survey
‘The ACIC has kept us informed of developments, particularly with regards to the National Child Offender System. We are invited to stakeholder meetings and consulted on any changes or updates, which is appreciated.’—Australian Government stakeholder, 2019 Stakeholder Survey
Table 2.17: Stakeholder survey results—Connect 2
By increasing the information available to our partners—so that it can be used by the appropriate police, law enforcement and intelligence agencies—we contribute to the effectiveness of our collective efforts to make Australia safer from crime.
Our performance in 2018–19 reflects similar levels to previous years, with generally similar or steadily increasing levels of information and intelligence and volumes of data available and being shared with an increasing number of national and international stakeholders.
The total disseminations of analytical products declined, due to a lower number of analytical products being produced. However, the average number of disseminations per product increased.
Australian Criminal Intelligence Database alerts continued to have system issues, which appear to rest with the external service provider. When those alerts are excluded from reporting, the total number of alerts in 2018–19 is above the three-year trend.
We have reduced the number of records in the National Firearms Identification Database by removing duplicate and erroneous information, improving data quality. Work has commenced on quality assurance reviews of records in the National Gangs List.
We continued to develop and make publicly available the annual Illicit Drug Data Report, releasing the 15th edition, and the National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program reports, releasing the fifth, sixth and seventh reports, during 2018–19.
We measure our performance against this criterion by the volume of data we share and make available to our stakeholders. We also record our development of new formats for sharing.
We share our information by:
providing systems that our stakeholders can search to find the information they need
disseminating intelligence and other information directly to our partners
providing public, unclassified information and intelligence.
The results for service provision and usage reported under the Connect 1 performance criterion are relevant to our performance in relation to sharing information and intelligence under this criterion; please see tables 2.9 to 2.15.
Information and intelligence shared
We shared criminal information and intelligence with more than 220 national and international law enforcement partners and other stakeholders during 2018–19. Figures 2.9 and 2.10 provide details of how we delivered that information.
Figure 2.9: Analytical and tactical intelligence products disseminated
Figure 2.10: Alerts disseminated and requests for information completed
Volume of data accumulated
We include statistics and trends on the volume of data available to our stakeholders as one aspect of our performance in connecting our partners to the information they need to make Australia safer.
Table 2.18 provides details of the numbers of records held in our systems at 30 June 2019. Because the number of records in each system is expected to increase each year, comparisons are made to the previous year only. We have aggregated different categories or types of records where appropriate, to calculate the total number of records held by each system.
Table 2.18: System records held
In the case of the National Firearms Identification Database, we have been working with our partners to improve the quality of the information available and remove duplicate and erroneous information, so the decline in the total number of records is a sign of success. This work commenced in 2017–18 and was completed in 2018–19. Please see further details of this improvement in data quality under ‘Service enhancements’ in the Respond 2B–Disrupt and protect section.
The decline in National Target System records was due to records updates, following the revision of the National Gangs List business rules (as endorsed by National Task Force Morpheus), and quality assurance reviews of OMCG membership data conducted by jurisdictions. This decrease is likely to continue throughout 2019–20 as jurisdictions continue their quality assurance processes.
At 30 June 2019, the NCIS interim solution contained more than 600 million available records.
Publicly available information provided
Illicit Drug Data Report
The Illicit Drug Data Report 2016–17 was released in September 2018. It is the 15th edition of the report and includes arrest, detection, seizure, purity, profiling and price data. The format and structure of the report have been changed, providing a more concise report while retaining key illicit drug market information and insights.
In November, for the first time, some of the information and data from the Illicit Drug Data Report was made available on the Australian Institute of Criminology’s Crime Statistics Australia website. This provides greater access to the unique and valuable data contained in the report.
National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program reports
The National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program released three reports in 2018–19: Report 5, in October 2018; Report 6, in February 2019; and Report 7, in June 2019.
The National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program provides leading-edge, coordinated national research and intelligence on illicit drugs and licit drugs that can be abused.
Wastewater analysis is widely applied internationally as a tool to measure and interpret drug use within national populations. The Australian Government recognises the considerable benefits of wastewater analysis and has drawn on established scientific expertise within Australian academic institutions to implement a national program based on international models.
The National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program is a key initiative in establishing an objective evidence base on illicit drug use and the levels of use of a number of legitimate substances. Further details about the latest report are provided in the ‘Wastewater analysis’ feature.
New techniques and formats for sharing
The ACIC launched its new, streamlined range of intelligence product templates in July 2018. The product templates have been modernised, are targeted and satisfy a broad range of ACIC stakeholder needs.