​AFP, ACC to split AU$2.6m intelligence upgrade from Australian government

The Australian government will use funds provided through the Proceeds of Crime Account to help the Australian Federal Police and the Australian Crime Commission respectively invest in a big data capability and real-time surveillance system.
Written by Aimee Chanthadavong, Contributor

The federal government has announced it will invest AU$2.6 million to help the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and the Australian Crime Commission (ACC) upgrade their intelligence capabilities.

The funds will be split between the two organisations: The AFP will receive AU$1.6 million for a new big data capability system, and the ACC will use AU$1 million for a new system that will enable real-time, secure transfer of information between surveillance teams in the field during investigation.

Minister for Justice and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Counter Terrorism Michael Keenan explained the big data capability will be used to help law enforcement agencies use the tools to overlay big data information with existing intelligence such as social media or news reporting, to decrypt any hidden criminal plans.

"The sheer volume of associated data from the IS [Islamic State] online onslaught has created a windfall of intelligence, and gives tremendous insight into terrorist organisations and also insight into operational activity from geolocation, to unintentionally leaked plans or photos," he said.

Meanwhile, the real-time capability to be used by the ACC, according to Keenan, will "enhance safety, situational awareness, and the timeliness and accuracy of decisions and actions in the field". At the same time, it's expected to boost collaboration between Australia's law enforcement agencies.

Keenan said the funding marks the government's commitment to helping Australia keep up with the changing national security landscape.

"The national security challenges Australia faces are evolving and so we must keep our legislation and capabilities under constant review to meet emerging challenges.

"We cannot eliminate entirely the risk of terrorism any more than we can eliminate the risk of any serious crime. But we can mitigate it -- and this is another weapon in our intelligence arsenal to keep Australians safe.

"We will continue to invest in our agencies to ensure they have the powers and the tools they need to thwart and frustrate many attacks before they occur."

The funding will be provided through the Proceeds of Crime Account, which is money taken from criminals and reinvested into agencies fighting crime in Australia.

At the end of last year, the Australian government announced it will invest AU$18.5 million to establish the National Facial Biometric Matching Capability to allow law-enforcement and government agencies to share facial images among themselves.

Keenan, at the time of announcing the biometric system, said it would initially provide one-to-one matching functionality to help establish the identity of unknown persons against photographs contained in government records.

"This process will expedite putting a name to the face of terror suspects, murderers, and armed robbers, and will also help to detect fraud cases involving criminals that use multiple identities," he said.

In addition, the Victorian government has announced plans to deliver a new data platform, which it has touted will give police officers better access to information on family violence, public disorder, and terrorist threats.

The Intelligence Management Analytics solutions will be delivered by the state government as part of its AU$227 million commitment to invest in police technology it announced as part of the Victorian Budget 2016-17.

In light of this announcement, Victoria Police has issued a request for tender for the delivery of the new system.

According to the state government, the new system will enable police and support officers to spend more time on operational duties rather than administrative tasks, enable better use of intelligence to focus on crime prevention, and provide the most effective response to law and order issues using the higher quality information.

Victorian Minister for Police Lisa Neville said the announcement delivers on the promise the government made to provide more resources to the chief commissioner.

"Information is the lifeblood of modern policing, and this technology will build on our huge investments in frontline policing, including 406 new sworn officers," she said.

"Officers will soon have efficient access to critical information around family violence and counter terrorism incidents as soon as they need it."

The technology boost forms part of the state's AU$596 million Public Safety Package it announced during Budget when Premier Daniel Andrews allocated a total AU$36.8 million to upgrade the force.

The extra funding boost will also go towards hiring introducing body-worn cameras, mobile technology, antiballistic vests and night vision, and a AU$15 million 24/7 Monitoring and Assessment Centre to ensure police can respond to major incidents.

But Victoria Police is not the only one receiving a technology upgrade. Last September, the NSW Police Force started rolling out body-worn video cameras, a project that was valued at AU$4 million. The cameras are expected to improve evidence collection as it will give police the option to have visual and audio recordings of incidents that could be potentially be used to support an investigation.

Meanwhile, Western Australia Police received AU$11 million in funding to deploy a new dispatch and mobility application to help manage daily operations, such as allowing officers to access operational data on-the-go and on their choice of device including smartphones, tablets, and laptops.

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