shot from a handgun with fire and smoke
shot from a handgun with fire and smoke

Border cops looking for missing gun, handcuffs, bullets

A Glock pistol was possibly lost or stolen.

A string of bulletproof vests had fallen into unknown hands, so had some hard-armour body plates that can withstand high caliber weapon fire.

And an unknown number of pump action shotgun bullets in the Border Force armoury had disappeared.

If that was not enough to worry about, multiple canisters of capsicum spray and batons were also missing.

Officers looking for a set of lost handcuffs found another six pairs which hadn't even been reported as missing.

Documents obtained under Freedom of Information laws revealed these "controlled items" were unaccounted for after a string of audits on Border Force armouries around the country, sending officials scrambling to find out what had happened.

A police officer using a hand gun. Picture: Nicole Cox
A police officer using a hand gun. Picture: Nicole Cox

 

A man wearing an ultra light ballistic vest.
A man wearing an ultra light ballistic vest.

A flurry of emails blamed "poor" record keeping, problems with the stocktake system and explanations some items had "probably" been returned but not signed in.

One emailed Minute labelled "sensitive" from the Commander Operational Readiness Branch last year revealed missing 12 Gauge shotgun ammunition rounds.

The Minute revealed that Border Force officers used the pump action shotguns for protection against dangerous wildlife and "remote area stranding".

Use of the shotgun ammunition was suspended in 2017 and the bullets held in the Border Force College armoury were transferred to the Operational Readiness Branch.

A man in handcuffs.
A man in handcuffs.

But the bullets went missing between an audit in 2018 and 2019 and have not been found.

Border Force has declined to reveal how many rounds are missing. However, it is understood the discrepancy may be due to a miscount.

Another email from a Border Force Inspector called for immediate action after it was revealed a number of ballistics vests panels - the parts of the vest which provide the resistance to bullets - had been missing for more than three years.

An earlier email about the vests which have been missing since 2016 said "Recollections … were that due to time pressures a complete and correct record of vests sent to Canberra was not complied, with the promise the vests would be appropriately receipted upon arrival in Canberra."

The Inspector dismissed explanations the vests were "likely" to have been returned to Canberra and told staff to either find them or report the loss to NSW Police.

Since 2017, audits of armouries in Sydney, Canberra, Adelaide and Perth have consistently shown up missing items including handcuffs.

In Sydney after staff were alerted to missing ballistics vests, capsicum spray and a set of handcuffs, their search then found "a further quantity of six handcuffs".

But there are no documents showing those handcuffs were ever listed as missing.

A spokesman for Border Force said the 15 controlled items referred to as missing from the Sydney armoury last year including two batons, eight ballistic vests, one Glock pistol, two hard armour plates and one covert OC spray and one Mk3 OC spray, have since been accounted for and are now recorded accurately in the system.

Police using capsicum spray on anti-mining protesters in 2019. Picture: Stuart McEvoy/The Australian.
Police using capsicum spray on anti-mining protesters in 2019. Picture: Stuart McEvoy/The Australian.

"This is the result of an earlier miscount. Additional control measures have been enacted to accurately manage the current stock of controlled items and record monthly stocktakes in the departmental system," said the spokesman.

It is understood two sets of ballistic panels from Canberra missing since 2015 and 2017 remain unaccounted for.

In the last three years, Border Force has made one report to NSW Police regarding the missing two sets of ballistic panels from Canberra.

A black police baton isolated on white.
A black police baton isolated on white.

It is understood Border Forcer introduced a new asset software platform which was to integrate the processes from tagging the weapons and controlled items to tracing them and providing details on the life cycle of the item.

But internal emails have revealed in late 2018 the new "AssetDNA system" had been experiencing issues and may not be providing up the most up to date information.

It was also revealed at times the "DNA handset" was reported as not functioning correctly.


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