The Beat, CT Scan and Checkpoint

The Beat

Agreement on firearms information

The Law, Crime and Community Safety Council—a forum for national Attorneys-General, police and emergency services ministers—met last Friday to fast-track a new firearms database. The National Firearms Interface will include information about firearm’s ownership, whether the arms are suspected of being used in a crime or has been reported stolen. Using information gathered by federal, state and territory police, the database will be completed by the end of 2015, two years ahead of schedule.

The Joint Commonwealth–NSW Review into the Martin Place siege recommended the interface be implemented this year. Calls to hasten gun reform coincide with the coronial inquest resuming this week.

National coordination against organised crime

The Attorney-General’s Department has released its National Organised Crime Response Plan 2015-2018, outlining initiatives for countering organised crimes, namely methamphetamine use and trafficking, gun crime, cybercrime, financial crime, criminal proceeds of crime and inter-agency information sharing.

One project involves a National Facial Biometric Matching Capability, which would match faces to passports, visas and driver’s licences in an effort to counter increasingly sophisticated use of fraudulent identities.

The plan recognises existing gaps, including information sharing with business and communities, holes in the national legal framework (including around unexplained wealth), and the importance of extending anti-money laundering provisions to potential professional facilitators to prevent exploitation of business structures and financial systems.

CT Scan

Australian CT directions

In the latest review of Australia’s counter-terrorism settings, Prime Minister Abbott has flagged a plan to strip dual-nationals of their Australian citizenship (see analysis here and here). Former diplomat Greg Moriarty has also been appointed as our first national CT coordinator. The government hasn’t managed to clearly explain the new division of labour, reminding The Age’s Mark Kenny of The Hollowmen. In one episode of the show, a review concluding that there are too many CT agencies leads to the creation of an entirely new agency.

As Clare mentioned above, the Sydney siege inquest was resumed on Monday. It seeks to answer some outstanding questions such as was the siege an example of terrorism, or a grim event borne of mental illness? Listen here for key takeaways from the first day back (9 mins).

Reforming al-Shabaab defectors

The BBC has shone a light on an organisation quietly rolling out a ‘disengagement programme’ for former al-Shabaab militants. The programme provides a sanctuary for defectors by helping them to come to terms with their actions and retraining them with new skills, including in building and sewing. The initiative also looks at reasons why people joined the group, ranging from being kidnapped to mere curiosity.

Comic relief

How has comedy served as a counterpoint to extremist propaganda? Parody Twitter account @MawlanaBaghdadi recently gave Ireland a thumbs-up for its new-found marriage equality with this viral photo of a man dressed in pink, reclining in front of a composite black rainbow standard flag.


Australia´s self- processing border gates

The planned expansion of the Smartgate e-passport system will increase both speed and security at Australia´s major international airports. With passenger flows expected to reach 50 million per year by 2020, the Government’s automated self-service response will ensure that 90% of passengers are screened through biometrical facial recognition.

Automated border processing will pull officers from high volume, low value activities, and into targeted work where a human being is needed, Randall Brugeaud said. Currently, only 35% of passengers are processed through biometrical facial recognition systems.

Canada´s transnational highways go driverless

A proposal to build a robot highway from Canada to Mexico crossing the US may not be as outrageous as it seems if it should be used exclusively by unmanned trucks. The commodities trade between Mexico, the US and Canada have pushed for feasibility studies to start. The proposed route would aim to secure a commercial lifeline for the region, and has gained attention from the border security community.