National criminal intelligence database and analytical tools
We assemble much of the intelligence we gather into a national database. This includes intelligence we gather directly through intelligence operations and investigations with our partners, as well as intelligence that comes from partner agencies.
However, the intelligence we collect is more than just statistics and numbers stored in a computer. It is regularly converted into operational outcomes. Our recent stakeholder research found that 54 per cent of partner agencies achieved a result or operational success in the last 12 months as a result of intelligence or information received.
Stronger intelligence sharing across agencies allows law enforcement to better focus resources on the most serious organised crime threats in order to have a real impact: this is the value of intelligence-led policing. Our intelligence also has genuine impact on strategic planning and policy development because it helps inform decision-makers.
One of our key performance indicators for 2010–11 is availability of a national criminal intelligence database and analytical tools to facilitate sharing and analysis of criminal intelligence across jurisdictions, as described below.
Australian Law Enforcement Intelligence Net (ALEIN)
ALEIN is the secure extranet that provides a gateway for our partners to access the:
- Australian Criminal Intelligence Database (ACID)
- National Clandestine Laboratory Database
- Violent and Sexual Crime Database.
ALEIN is also a secure messaging channel for sharing criminal information and intelligence between Commonwealth, state and territory law enforcement agencies.
We publish our intelligence assessments to both ALEIN and ACID. In ALEIN they are available in a web-like environment, providing easy access to the latest ACC intelligence products. Intelligence products are stored within a ‘desk’ based structure. The Europol Desk was the most popular during 2010–11, followed by the ACC Board Secretariat Desk.
ACID is a criminal intelligence and information system that provides more than 25 Commonwealth, state and territory law enforcement agencies and other regulatory authorities with the ability to securely share, collate and analyse criminal information and intelligence nationally.
Information and intelligence hosted by ACID is contextually rich and offers analysts and investigators insights into a wide variety of criminal themes, concepts and issues.
ACID provides law enforcement with functionality and tools to assist with identifying, analysing and sharing critical pieces of information including new criminal trends, emerging methodologies, links between crime groups and cross-border criminal activities.
The database provides a range of analytical options such as data matching, data mining and geospatial and text analysis that help us to build pictures of criminal activities.
We have recently embarked on a data quality improvement program to further enhance ACID’s capability and increase its value to its many users.
The volume of criminal information and intelligence uploads to ACID during 2010–11 is above typical patterns of ordinary use, with 1.6 million new entities created in ACID, up from 1.2 million in 2009–10. This increase is due to the continuing back-capture and upload of NSW Police Force Information Reports dating back to 2006.
There is evidence of increased ACC activity due to analysis of data by the ACC-led National Criminal Intelligence Fusion Capability (see page 46 for more details about Fusion). However, overall the number of ACID searches fell from 867 576 in 2009–10 to 559 469 in 2010–11. This reflects a decline in use of ACID across all agencies. This trend is due to the continued decline in funded ACID development since 2007–08. This declining trend is expected to continue until the results of the ACID/ALEIN Scoping Study improve the ACID user experience. (More on the ACID/ALEIN Scoping Study is included in Chapter 2—Agency overview on page 52.)
Highlights for 2010–11 include:
- continuing to improve the quality of user interaction with the system through increased training opportunities, minor enhancements to access, search and presentation functions and better communication with users about its business benefits
- working closely with ACID stakeholders and prospective user agencies to increase the quality of criminal information and intelligence being transferred to ACID, and to increase the frequency of use in future
- increasing connectivity to agencies with a criminal intelligence function such as the Department of Infrastructure and Transport, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and the Australian Fisheries Management Authority
- continuing support of the ACID/ALEIN Information Sharing Working Group—this group comprises representatives from our partner agencies and is revising the ACID/ALEIN security risk assessment to identify changes necessary to satisfy information security and information management requirements of contributing agencies. The group also considers implications of the National Security Information Environment Roadmap issued by the National Security Chief Information Officer
- facilitating 2775 active users and 559 469 searches of ACID
- supporting a total of 451 039 document uploads to ACID
- creating 1.6 million new entities (uploaded intelligence reports may contain details of one or more entities such as names, addresses and other specific information)
- facilitating 87 162 visits to over 1000 intelligence desks within ALEIN.
This database is used to capture information about violent and sexual crime. The database provides analytical tools to allow specially trained analysts to complete behavioural comparative case analysis in order to identify serial offences and offenders at the earliest opportunity.
In late 2010 we finished upgrading this system to enhance the useability and maintenance functions and improve workflow. The results include an improvement in upload compliance, improved analytical capability and efficiency and general increased productivity in the Queensland Police Service. South Australia Police, Victoria Police and Western Australia Police have also shown renewed interest in this capability.
This national repository of data and intelligence is used by all Australian law enforcement and forensic agencies to capture and disseminate information about seized clandestine laboratories.
In early 2011, we began an upgrade project for the National Clandestine Laboratory Database. The objective is to make it easier and simpler for field officers to capture seizure exhibit information. The upgraded software is expected to be rolled out to jurisdictions in late 2011.
More information about clandestine laboratories is on page 110 in this chapter.
One of the unique ways we support partner agencies, both in Australia and overseas, is by helping to trace the source of illicit firearms.
We have been operating the ACC firearm trace program since 2004. This year alone, we received 365 firearm trace requests and disseminated 127 results to partner agencies.
Tracing a firearm can be an important step in an investigation that leads to a result. For example, this year we assisted a partner agency to identify a firearm involved in a homicide, after previous investigations could not identify the rifle due to errors in the data. A search of the historical firearm importation records that we have been collecting and validating for over six years turned up the correct serial number of the firearm in question.
The program receives significant positive partner feedback, which helps us continue to improve the program. During the year we further developed our firearm database so that it can now electronically translate Russian Cyrillic alphabet serial numbers into Arabic script. With the increased number of Russian firearms entering the commercial market, this capacity greatly enhances the accuracy of the data used to trace illicit firearms and identify how they make their way to the illicit market.
In the international arena, we contributed our expertise to the United Nations during the year. ACC representatives attended a United Nations Meeting of Government Experts in New York during June 2011, where we helped identify technical issues with implementing the United Nations International Instrument to enable States to Identify and Trace in a Timely and Reliable Manner, Illicit Small Arms and Light Weapons. Meeting Chair, H.E. Mr Jim McClay CNZM, QSO, recognised the ACC’s participation as valuable input into the meeting. Member States of the United Nations have also requested our assistance in developing systems to enable the accurate record-keeping of firearms.
In addition, the United States firearm manufacturer Sturm Ruger Inc. invited us to view records of Ruger 10/22 semi-automatic rifles exported to Australia. This was one type of firearm subject to the Australian 1996 National Firearms Agreement Buy-Back. After a weeklong collection process, we were able to identify how many Ruger 10/22 semi-automatic rifles are still unaccounted for in the Australian market after the 1996 buy-back, to assist with investigatory, intelligence and policy considerations and inform intelligence assessments.
Enhancing partner relationships through MOUs
To fulfil our role of collecting, correlating, analysing and disseminating criminal information and intelligence, we must have strong informationsharing relationships with both our traditional and emerging partners.
We establish and document these relationships through Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) between the ACC and partner agencies. This is consistent with the whole-ofgovernment approach to collaborating across agencies to implement programs, deliver services and share information as appropriate.
MOUs enhance our partner relationships, allowing for greater information sharing and cooperation on future joint projects. They set out roles and responsibilities, define governance obligations, performance expectations and reporting arrangements.
The ACC operates across jurisdictional boundaries to collect relevant criminal intelligence and information. Reflecting the transnational nature of the fight against serious and organised crime, there is also interest from international agencies to develop information-sharing relationships with the ACC. For example, New Zealand Police connect to our Australian Law Enforcement Intelligence Net (ALEIN) and we are currently negotiating with the New Zealand Customs Service.
In a growing culture of collaboration, MOUs are an effective way for us to ensure we collect and disseminate information in line with Commonwealth, state and territory legislative, regulatory and policy requirements. As well as ensuring information is collected and shared according to measurable standards, this positive move forward provides partner agencies with a level of protection and assurance about the security of the information they share with the ACC.
During the past year, we refreshed several MOUs with partner agencies including:
- South Australia Police
- Tasmania Police
- Australian Taxation Office.
Recognising the increasing demand for ACC intelligence products to assist in combating serious and organised crime (including fraud against the Commonwealth), we negotiated and signed MOUs with new partners, including:
- Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA)
- Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)
- Department of Infrastructure and Transport (Office of Transport Security)
- New South Wales Corrective Services.
These new and developing relationships provide win-win outcome to the ACC and its partners. For example, our agreement with AFMA increases its intelligence capability for profiling entities in the fishing industry and its ability to deliver a more efficient and targeted enforcement program. And the ACC gains access to AFMA’s intelligence to add value to our existing intelligence holdings on:
- outlaw motorcycle gangs
- serious and organised crime links to the Australian fishing industry
- fraudulent activity
- intelligence assessments
- crew and port profiling
- information reports and prosecution outcomes.
In the coming year we will continue to build or refresh agreements with our traditional and non‑traditional partner agencies.