Australian Police Will Soon Be Able To Track Illegal Guns All Over The Country

CrimTrac, the information-sharing service for Australia's law enforcement and national security agencies, has developed a nationwide tracking and identification program for the bullets and cartridges used in violent crime around the country. The Australian Ballistics Information Network will let police stockpile and share data on guns used in crime, possibly linking to an international database in the future.

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Re-announced this morning at the Sydney Police Centre by federal justice minister Michael Keenan and NSW police minister Stuart Ayres (it has been planned since last year's Budget), the Australian Ballistics Information Network is on track to be up and running by the end of June. It'll allow all the different states and territories in the country to access the same data gathered by each state policing team, building a network of instances of ballistics evidence gathered after gun-related crime.

ABIN will collate information on the unique characteristics that every firearm leaves on the bullets and cartridges it is loaded with and that it fires; the firing pin, barrel rifling and cartridge breach all leave unique, sometimes microscopic marks on ammunition. These marks can then be cross-checked against other unidentified ammunition, possibly linking multiple crimes through the use of the same weapon. In that same way, the transit of weapons across the country (either through sale, or being transported across state borders) can be tracked.

Similar systems exist worldwide for tracking weapons used in crime; Interpol's IBIN is available to Australian law enforcement as part of Australia's membership of the international policing organisation, and is used alongside the iARMS weapons-tracing network. Since Australia's ABIN uses Forensic Technology ballistics tracking systems, it is possible that the network could be integrated with Interpol's international one -- the two use the same technology.

The announcement comes just after the NSW government signalled the start of a rollout of body-worn video cameras for its active-duty police officers.