Firearms data ‘compromised’ says NSW police sergeant

The storage details of 700,000 firearms may have fallen into criminalhands after being accessible by 16,000 police and civilians on an unsecuredfile server for at least 18 months, according to a police whistleblower whosays the police hierarchy refused to secure the data.

NSW Police Sergeant David Good has confirmed that thedetailed locations of most of the state’s registered firearms and their ownerswere so easily accessible that criminals potentially had access to it in whatappears to be a case of gross police administration incompetence.

Sgt Good said that he had become concerned for the safety ofgun owners when the single-file database, containing gun owner addresses, wasmoved from a high-security storage system to an unsecure intranet accessed by16,000 police and civilian staff for at least 18 months to December 2010.

“The information contained within that single databaseincluded a schedule of firearms owned, and the storage address for the state’slicenced firearms owners, in the order of 700,000 firearms,” he said incorrespondence with senior police that was made available to Sporting Shooter.

“(The database) would be considered an extremely valuableresource to the criminal element, who would no doubt offer lucrativeinducements for the corrupt release of same.”

Sgt Good would not speculate on any direct link between guntheft and the unlawful release of gun owner details, however, anecdotalevidence shows that thefts had occurred shortly after police had carried out anaudit at a gun storage location.

This has led to speculation that gun owner details are alreadyin criminal hands, and the recent case of a police impersonator demanding to inspecta gun owner’s firearms safe prompted Sgt Good to speak out.

“I have been attempting to have this situation correctedsince December 2010,” he said and added that he had been dissatisfied with thelevel of accountability or even acknowledgement of the situation by NSW Police.

“I want to see that the NSW Police Force is brought toaccount for creating a very significant risk to licenced firearms owners andthe wider community, and this risk would have been avoided through sensiblesecurity and practices in regard to the very sensitive nature of theinformation at risk.”

In his correspondence with senior police, Sgt Good detailedthose risks, pointing out that while the database was password protected, itwould have been a simple matter to crack into it without leaving evidence.

“Access to this database did not create any audit trail,” hesaid. “Any of those persons could have easily copied that database to removablemedia and unlawfully disseminated same outside of the organisation.

“In the highly likely event that the database had been socopied during this period, such corrupt behaviour would not have been detectedand the data within such a copied database would still be largely current tothis day.”

Sgt Good had also appealed to the Police IntegrityCommission, which did not choose to investigate the matter, but sought a formalresponse on the matter. Sgt Good described this result and the response fromthe police at corporate level as “contemptible”.

“It is an extremely regrettable and unacceptable irony, thatin the course of executing a program of auditing licenced firearms owners, inan effort to mitigate any public risk posed by registered firearms, the NSWPolice Force through lapse and very dubious data retention and audit practiceshas actually created an exponentially higher risk to public safety generally,and even greater risk to licenced firearms owners,” he said.

“Whilst I am pleased that the vast majority ofNSW Police Force employees perform their duties ethically and diligently itshould also be borne in mind that over the last few years a number of employees(both civilian and police officers) have been charged and convicted ofcorruptly disclosing police information and data. It would have only taken one ‘badapple’ to have disseminated the insecure data I have complained about.”




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