A new team of police investigators will target firearm crime across Victoria as part of the Andrews Labor Government’s crackdown to remove illegal guns from our streets and keep the community safe.
Minister for Police Lisa Neville joined Assistant Commissioner Steve Fontana today to unveil the new team – the latest tool in the war on the illicit firearms trade and armed crime.
The 10 new officers were funded as part of the Victorian Budget 2016/17 and will work in two teams of five.
The new teams are part of Victoria Police’s Armed Crime Squad, and will run overt and covert firearms operations across Victoria. The first officers in these teams have already hit the streets in the last few weeks.
They will work to disrupt the illicit firearms trade, focusing on high-risk offenders who may be involved in gun crime.
The team will also closely scrutinise trends in the illegal manufacture of firearms – including the use of 3D printers – and will provide support to the regions to investigate thefts of registered firearms.
This investment will also support stronger collaboration between Victoria Police, interstate and Commonwealth agencies to help stop trafficking of illegal firearms into the state.
Today’s announcement comes as the Labor Government prepares to introduce new laws into parliament to better address the illegal manufacture of firearms by making it an offence to possess firearm parts or equipment to create a firearm.
There will be additional laws introduced to specifically address drive by shootings and people who shoot at buildings, as well as a new Firearms Prohibition Order that will give police the power to target individuals who pose a threat or risk to public safety from accessing firearms.
The Labor Government has created a range of new offences to tackle the black market in guns, which came into effect in late 2015. These included creating a new offence ‘manufacture of firearms’, including 3D printers, to create guns, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years jail.
These changes have also made it easier for the police to charge individuals for the possession of a firearm, as well as increasing the penalty for the theft of a firearm from 10 to 15 years in jail.
Victoria Police is recruiting thousands of extra police to bolster the front line and keep Victorians safe, with 3,135 new police to be deployed over the next five years.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Police Lisa Neville
“We’re stepping up the fight on illegal firearms to keep Victorians safe.”
“The dedicated new team of specially recruited and trained officers will be at the front line to stop the trade of illicit guns, which has no place in our society.”
“Our record police investment is putting thousands of police into the communities across Victoria, while also delivering the specialist police to take on the illicit gun trade, gangs, and maintain public order.”