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22 December 2023, 8:23am
Media Release

AFP’s world-leading Forensics Intelligence capability keeping Australians safe

Editor’s note: Images and audio grabs available via Hightail link here

The AFP’s world-leading Forensic Intelligence Team has identified hundreds of persons of interest relating to illegal firearm activity across Australia resulting in the seizure of illicit firearms, drugs and cash.

The AFP Forensic Intelligence Team provides operational leads, analyses criminal networks, and scans for emerging trends, technologies and issues that may impact community safety.

The team identifies these emerging risks using scientific, technical and operational expertise to identify threats, gaps and opportunities to better protect Australians at home and abroad.

AFP Forensics Coordinator Dr Michael Taylor said the AFP Forensic Intelligence capability used scientific and technical information, along with specialised expertise, to aid investigations and to prepare for future risks in the criminal environment, across different crime domains.

“This team is a world-leading capability for the AFP and it plays an essential role in fighting crime and keeping Australians safe,” Dr Taylor said.

“AFP Forensics is not just about excellent laboratory work. Our forensic intelligence provides investigators with leads, including persons of interest, and even generates new investigations. It also provides insight and highlights opportunity for policy change or legislative reform to help better protect Australians.”

Dr Taylor said the AFP Forensic Intelligence Team maintained several different project areas of focus to keep the community safe, including the detection of illicit firearms and preventing their importation into Australia.

“This team is responsible for remaining one step ahead of Transnational Serious and Organised Crime using forensic intelligence to help law enforcement identify emerging threats and risks, such as detecting new trends in the manufacturing of firearms and other weapons,” he said.

The AFP Forensics Intelligence Team’s work has been credited with driving firearm reform in Australia. For example, Forensic Intelligence identified there was a move towards the international commercialisation of electromagnetic ‘Gauss’ or ‘coil’ guns. The team characterised these and highlighted gaps in Australia’s regulatory framework.

“This intelligence assessment explained how electromagnetic forces could accelerate a projectile down a barrel, meaning for instance that traditional ammunition wasn’t required. Such weapons will likely be developed and enhanced over time. We identified that the accessibility of these, without clear legal guidelines, is an emerging threat, and raised the alarm on behalf of Australian law enforcement,” Dr Taylor said.

The AFP Forensic Intelligence assessment was used to identify the gap in legislation and weapon controls which led to the Attorney General’s Department taking action by introducing the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Amendment (Electromagnetic Weapons) Regulations 2022.

“Outcomes like this are a significant win for the AFP along with state and Commonwealth law enforcement, with the AFP Forensic Intelligence threat assessments resulting in tightening of laws to ensure these types of weapons cannot readily make their way into the hands of criminals in Australia, leading to a safer community for all of us,” he said.

“The role of scientific and technical expertise in policing is critical to understanding and adapting to a highly dynamic criminal environment.”

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