25 September 2023

West AG wild over gun controls

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The Auditor General of Western Australia has reported on the regulation and oversight of firearms by the State’s police force five times since 2000 with the latest report finding that the same weaknesses that were there at the beginning are still there today.

In her report, Firearm Controls, WA Auditor General, Caroline Spencer said that while her latest report did not find evidence that WA Police approved licences inappropriately, “it did highlight areas of risk”.

“It is disappointing to see significant regulatory controls and information system issues remain unaddressed, despite four previous audits by my Office into firearms,” Ms Spencer said.

“Our audit found a number of issues with Police’s Firearms Licensing and Registry Information System, including weak controls over licence approvals.”

She said WA Police assessed about 10,500 firearm licence applications each year and approved more than 99 per cent of them.

“A small number of police staff who do not have authority under the Firearm Regulations to approve licences could do so in the system, which increases risks over the validity of licensing decisions,” she said.

The audit also found that decisions on licence applications lacked transparency; procedures to help staff assess licence applications were out of date and incomplete; and the police carried out limited compliance and inspection activities.

Ms Spencer said that inadequate guidance for police staff could lead to inconsistent licence assessment decisions and limited monitoring of compliance, while the information system on firearms was deficient.

“WA Police need to address these long-standing weaknesses, so they can provide the community, including licence holders, with assurance that firearms are properly managed in Western Australia,” Ms Spencer said.

The Auditor General’s 21-page report can be accessed at this PS News link.

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