Shooters and Fishers Party MLC Robert Borsak has blamedpolice negligence for the recent spike in firearm theft, pointing the fingerdirectly at the mismanagement of gun owner details.
Mr Borsak was commenting on the Sporting Shooter story thatrevealed the details of gun owners in NSW had been placed on a NSW Police Forceintranet server that was not password protected, giving 16,000 police andcivilians anonymous access to the information over two and a half years.
“At the same time, a spike has apparently occurred in thenumber of handguns stolen, a number that totals more than overall increase inthe number of guns stolen in 2012 compared with 2011,” he said.
“Some of those thefts were clearly targeted at sources ofmultiple handguns, not only accounting for the spike is handgun numbers, butrevealing the real risks to legitimate gun owners.
“One man in the process of setting up a firearm business wastied up, assaulted and shot in the foot before being forced to open his safe.His inventory of 22 firearms was stolen.”
Mr Borsak described the Firearms Registry database as a “shoppinglist for criminals” and said he believed it has been circulated in the criminalunderworld, putting NSW’s 200,000 registered firearms owners at risk.
“It is too late to secure this data,” he said. “The only wayto ensure its future security is to remove the Firearms Registry from policecontrol. The Registry must become a highly secure, independent body.”
The story about the unsecure data was also picked up in thenational media, however, the police have refuted claims the database wasstolen.
“There is no evidence the database was compromisedduring the period identified,” a police spokesman reportedly said.
“Since early 2011, the safe storage database wasrelocated to a controlled access environment and is the subject of a full audittrail.”
However, Sergeant David Good, who brought the situation tothe attention of senior police in 2010 said he was disappointed by thisresponse.
“It is frustrating to see and hear the NSW Police, in regardto the database available until December 2010 without restriction, and withoutpassword protection, to all NSW Police employees, say that they have noevidence that the database was compromised,” he said.
“To me, that statement is misleading because there was nosystem in place that would have logged the accessing or even copying of thedatabase and as such, of course no evidence of such a compromise would exist.”
Sgt Good also raised concerns about police radio protocolwith the safe storage addresses broadcast on unencrypted police radio channels.He said police would call for a file nominating a specific address during thefirearms audit process in which officers would attend a firearms owner’sstorage address.
He said police scanners and even simple software apps onsmartphones gave anyone access to police radio transmissions, while organisedcriminals had even had access to so-called secure radio.
“As well known, the criminal element regularly defeats theencryption of that network or are able to listen to police broadcasts viaillegally obtained police radio equipment,” he said.
The revelation adds to Mr Borsak’s call for the abolition ofthe Firearm Registry.
“(The Firearms Registry) must be disbanded altogether,following the lead taken by New Zealand and Canada after they learned theirmain registries were a waste of resources and money that did not reduce crimerates,” he said.
“Now that the NSW Government, through its ownincompetence, has allowed the data to be leaked, it must fund security upgradesfor all firearm owners in the state. Licensed shooters are the ones most atrisk, and the government has an obligation to fix the mess it has created.”