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Audit reveals almost 200 police firearms can't be accounted for

The Herald Sun,
BYLINE: Mark Buttler, Herald Sun
Link to Article

Melbourne, Australia

ALMOST 200 shotguns, semi-automatics and revolvers held by Victoria Police can't be accounted for, an embarrassing audit has revealed.

The shemozzle has been exposed in a stocktake of thousands of guns held by police over the past 20 years.

Among the 186 guns confirmed as missing are police firearms and others used for forensic comparison and training.

Police admit many could have been lost, though some could have been destroyed without documentation and listings for others could have been duplicated. The audit, which began last year, follows two decades of sloppy records.

A police spokesman said not all of the weapons were lost, and the force expected most cases related to "poor historical record keeping and tracking of weapons". Some of the guns identified may no longer exist.

"For example, firearms might have been destroyed, but not removed from our databases. Or duplicate entries have been made on databases. Or if the serial number on a weapon was entered incorrectly, then we would be looking for a serial number on a firearm that does not exist," he said.

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The force took security "extremely seriously". "Our record keeping and tracking of total firearms in the state, however, has not been sufficient over the past 20 years, and we are now undertaking extensive work to remedy the situation," he said.

Until last year there had been no attempt to reconcile four separate firearms databases.

The audit initially found 500 gun records could not be reconciled. Three of 10,292 operational guns are among those missing.

But the spokesman said he expected they'd be recovered soon.

But Firearms Traders Association secretary Graeme Forbes said this was unlikely.

"If they've been looking for months, they're not going to find them," he said.

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