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Understand

We improve our understanding of the picture of crime impacting Australia by undertaking analysis to influence a better response.

Understand 1

Table showing Performance criterion for Understand 1—The understanding of the picture of crime impacting Australia is increasingly more comprehensive, integrated and relevant. Result-Met.

Achievements

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 showing two bar graphs. Graph 1 represents ‘Analytical products finalised’ for 2015–16 = 124, 2016–17 = 144, 2017–18 = 172, 2018–19 = 99, 2019–20 = 153 with a four-year historical average trend line of 135. Graph 2 represents ‘Tactical intelligence products finalised’ for 2015–16 = 2,494, 2016–17 = 2,107, 2017–18 = 1,990, 2018–19 = 1,999, 2019–20 = 2,396 with a four-year historical average trend line of 2,148.

The ACIC developed a range of intelligence products against all board-agreed priority crime themes. The figures in Figure 2.6 represent the numbers of intelligence products based on their priority crime themes. As some products relate to multiple priority categories, the total of these categories is higher than the overall number of unique intelligence products.

Figure 2.6: Intelligence products focused on priority crime themes

Figure showing a bar graph representing the numbers of intelligence products for 2019–20 against the four-year trend. ‘Financial crime’ trend = 836 / 2019–20 = 1,069; ‘Drugs’ trend = 861 / 2019–20 = 1,512; ‘Other’ trend = 439 / 2019–20 = 302; ‘Gangs’ trend = 449 / 2019–20 730; ‘Firearms’ trend = 445 / 2019–20 = 506; ‘Cybercrime’ trend = 335 / 2019–20 = 288; ‘National security’ trend = 162 / 2019–20 = 86. Footnote: Work was undertaken in 2018–19 and 2019–20 to improve the capture of products’ priority crime themes within the performance database. As a result, products which had been recorded as ‘other’ but were in fact related to an identified priority crime theme were assigned to the relevant theme. Therefore, the number of ‘other’ products has declined. Intelligence products related to a board-agreed priority crime theme but outside of the categories outlined continue to be captured as ‘other’.

Highest risk serious and organised crime

We maintained the APOT list and jurisdictional Regional Priority Organisation Target lists, and delivered tactical and strategic insights to our partners on the activities of highest risk criminals. Intelligence reporting improved our understanding of key networks, transnational criminal business models, professional facilitators, and the exploitation of global migration systems.

For example, analysis of criminal enablers identified a number of significant transnational criminals impacting Australia who had engaged in ‘golden visa’ schemes in various countries to obtain citizenship or residency. These schemes, which have become cheaper and increasingly common since the global financial crisis, often provide opportunities to move assets to jurisdictions with opaque financial systems.

Financial crime

We produced a wide range of intelligence products relating to illicit finance and the laundering of proceeds of crime to support the agency’s stakeholders. The products cover topics such as new and emerging methodologies to launder money—including cryptocurrency—and identify new individuals potentially engaged in this criminal activity domestically and internationally.

In 2019–20, the ACIC contributed significantly to Australia’s understanding of new and emerging money laundering methodologies. We utilised our unique powers to collect intelligence which has contributed to domestic and international operations. The ACIC also led the Serious Financial Crime Taskforce Fusion Team, which targeted tax evasion and criminal exploitation of government stimulus measures related to COVID-19.

Cybercrime

In 2019–20, the ACIC cybercrime intelligence team based at the Australian Cyber Security Centre discovered and prioritised cybercrime threats to Australia, understood the criminal networks behind those threats, and supported Australian Government response strategies by working closely with law enforcement, intelligence and industry security partners in Australia and internationally.

The ACIC produced intelligence reporting to improve the understanding of cybercriminal behaviour during the COVID-19 pandemic, including emerging ransomware threats, SMS phishing campaigns, mobile malware, and online criminal infrastructure services on the dark web.

We also produced intelligence to improve understanding of business email compromise scams; malware; anonymity features in cryptocurrencies; the threat of ransomware to Australian businesses; and cybercriminal exploitation of government systems.

We worked with domestic and international partners to identify cybercriminals who purchased access to Australian networks on dark web marketplaces to facilitate fraud and cybercrime activities. We identified a number of significant cybercriminals operating in or targeting Australia and disseminated that intelligence to law enforcement agencies.

Our participation in the 2019 Cyber War Games, on the theme of ‘it’s a good day to be a bad guy’, allowed for interactions and sharing between government agencies and private organisations with interests in cyber security.

Illicit drugs

We produced intelligence products to improve understanding of illicit drug consumption during the period of the COVID 19 pandemic and the resultant national restrictions; consumption of pharmaceutical opioids; trends in the Australian methylamphetamine and related precursor market; the threat posed by counterfeit pharmaceuticals; and the domestic manufacture of drugs for sale on the dark web.

We completed two assessments which compared data from our National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program with data from our Illicit Drug Data Report to determine whether significant seizures of illicit drugs can have an impact on the consumption of illicit drugs. The two markets selected for initial analysis were the methylamphetamine and cocaine markets. In both cases it was revealed that large seizures can have a tangible short-term impact by reducing consumption in the jurisdiction where the seizure occurred, and sometimes in other jurisdictions, for several months.

The Feature: ACIC hosts conference to combat pharmaceutical opioid threat provides information on the pharmaceutical opioid threat in Australia.

Gangs

We used our coercive powers to source information relevant to the Outlaw Motor Cycle Gangs special operation, which targets outlaw motor cycle gang (OMCG) members involved in drug and firearm trafficking, violence, corruption, fraud and money laundering.

Members of the Australian Gangs Intelligence Coordination Centre (AGICC) presented at international events in 2019 and 2020, including in Thailand, New Zealand and the Netherlands. These presentations outlined the regional OMCG threat, particularly in South-East Asia and the Pacific, push–pull factors relevant to the region, and the risks and/or effectiveness of a range of disruption methods. Contributing to collaborative international efforts to combat gangs continues to be a key strategy in Australia’s effort to reduce the threat posed by transnational OMCG networks.

Illicit firearms

We produced intelligence to improve understanding of firearms supply methodologies used by serious and organised crime groups in Australia, and systemic vulnerabilities the groups are exploiting; the illicit manufacture of handguns; and the role of firearms trace analysis in determining the means by which firearms are diverted to the illicit market.

An assessment was completed of a significant national vulnerability that is being exploited by criminally minded firearms dealers to divert multiple firearms to the illicit market. The assessment was widely shared across Australia, informed and was informed by successful operational activity in a number of jurisdictions, and contributed to discussions concerning procedural and regulatory reform.

Other criminal threats to Australia

We produced intelligence to identify and improve understanding of criminal threats to Australia such as threats to national security; sports integrity risks, including links between sports betting and serious and organised crime; visa and migration fraud; the organised sexual exploitation of children; and emerging threats from the criminal encrypted communications market.

The ACIC obtained intelligence on a major illicit tobacco network and its money laundering activities and links with Middle Eastern serious and organised crime groups. The ACIC’s intelligence supported disruption activities that hampered the network leader’s ability to operate, which led the network leader to discontinue involvement in the illicit tobacco market.

Stakeholder survey results

The ACIC has continued to provide high-quality intelligence products across a wide spectrum of threats.’—International partner, 2020 Stakeholder Survey

The ACIC has transformed itself in the past couple of years to provide more unique insights and intelligence. The transition away from policing activities into a more informed national and international-led role has provided significantly more value than simply replicating the work of policing agencies.’—Australian Government partner, 2020 Stakeholder Survey'

Table 2.2: Stakeholder survey results—Understand 1

 ACIC intelligence products provide a comprehensive and relevant understanding of crime impacting Australia; Proportion of respondents who agreed or strongly agreed 2019–20 = 74% a change of +5 from 2018–19 = 69% 2017–18 = 75%.

Understand 2

Table showing Performance criterion for Understand 2—The understanding of the picture of crime impacting Australia is increasingly used to influence strategies and responses to crime. Result–Met.

Achievements

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.

Serious and organised crime risk assessment

In late 2019, the ACIC developed a detailed assessment of serious and organised crime risks posed to Australia. This assessment provides a threat, harm and overall risk rating for a range of crime types and markets, along with an outlook for the next three years. This detailed intelligence product allows state and federal agencies to better target and prioritise crime threats to Australia to maximise the impact of policing and intelligence activities and better disrupt criminal syndicates.

Wastewater drug monitoring

In 2019–20, data derived from the ACIC’s National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program was used by two state police forces to inform and justify local investigative strategies and to better understand the relationships between drug consumption and certain other types of crime. Their analysis included a focus on licit and illegal drugs and assisted them to confirm previously suspected relationships between drug use and crime, exploring potential factors contributing to community harm.

The methods by which the ACIC is using its national wastewater program to inform and influence government and public and private sector decision-making and reporting are internationally recognised as being world best practice. This was the subject of ACIC’s presentation to an international conference in China in October 2019 that led to the ACIC and its Australian partners being nominated to host the next conference in October 2021. Partnerships developed by the ACIC with academic institutions and CSIRO have been a force multiplier in this area.

Cybercrime

In the second half of 2019, the Australian Cyber Security Centre invited the ACIC to use its unique expertise in crime scripting to facilitate development of the Australian Government’s response to cybercrime threats impacting the financial sector. The ACIC’s cybercrime intelligence team led a multi-day crime-scripting program with representatives from federal government and private financial institutions, resulting in significant enhancements in how these stakeholders work together to target and disrupt cybercriminals engaged in malware development and deployment.

International collaboration

The ACIC’s involvement overseas includes long-term and short-term deployments to international partner agencies. Joint operations with overseas partners to help us to prevent offshore serious and organised crime threats targeting Australia extended our international engagement.

During 2019–20, deployees supported a range of activities, including:

  • enhancing the national understanding of Australian gangs and their international networks
  • improving the national understanding of visa and migration fraud
  • identifying Australians engaged in money laundering
  • aiding disruption of the international flow of money, drugs and precursors
  • supporting the disruption of international drug traffickers utilising previously unseen methodologies
  • uncovering real-world identities of cybercriminals.

The ACIC continued to facilitate Dare-to-Share (DTS) sessions in the first half of 2019–20 (the sessions were cancelled in the second half of the financial year due to the COVID-19 pandemic).

DTS provides 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

Table 2.3: Stakeholder survey results—Understand 2

 ACIC intelligence and information inform policy/legal response to criminal activity threatening Australiaa; Proportion of respondents who agreed or strongly agreed 2019–20 = 84% a change of +8 from 2018–19 = 76%, 2017–18 = 75%; Survey statement: ACIC intelligence products on crime impacting Australia influence their approach to tackling crime; Proportion of respondents who agreed or strongly agreed 2019–20 = 67% no change from 2018–19 = 67%, 2017–18 = 64%. Footnote: a This survey statement is used in the performance results for two criteria, Understand 2 and Respond 1, as they both relate to guiding strategies and preventative responses.