Victoria Police to banish paper forms

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Victoria Police to banish paper forms

Overcoming the scourge of dodgy handwriting.

Victorian citizens will no longer need to use paper forms to apply for gun and security licenses when the state police introduces its new online lodgement system.

Victoria Police currently suffers through an arduous and error-prone process underpinning its approval process for firearm and security licenses and background checks.

At present, those wanting to apply for a license either need to pick up forms from a station or print them off a website, and fill them out by hand.

One difficulty for the data entry team in that approach is illegible handwriting.

“Once an application form has been received by the licensing and regulation division, processing staff spend significant amounts of time re-keying data and assessing incomplete, incorrect and/or illegible applications that may eventually be returned to the applicant for amendment," the force said in tender documents today.

“Incomplete and incorrect applications contribute significantly to processing backlogs and frequently give rise to queries and complaints from applicants."

This function is repeated close to 125,000 times every year to meet the licensing requirements for firearm owners and sellers, private security firms and work-related police checks. It also takes about 186,000 sheets of copy paper.

In order to ditch the burdensome and archaic process, Victoria Police has approached the market for an electronic forms solution that will allow at least some of these applications to be filled out and lodged online.

But some of the stricter requirements around personal certification mean not all of these processes can go fully electronic. Victoria Police hopes that even in these scenarios, the new system will take at least some of the pain out of lodgement.

All forms, even those which have to be mailed or delivered in person, will be able to be filled out online. Forms will also be pre-filled with existing customer details.

The system will also act as a quality check on submissions. It will prevent incomplete or incorrect forms from being printed to minimise the painful back and forth transactions that staff need to undertake chasing up missing information.

It is all part of a quest to “free up Victoria Police resource capacity to focus on the regulatory rather than administrative aspects of the licensing process”, and takes place within a broader technology-enabled reform program within the organisation as it works to keep pace with its peers in other jurisdictions and the expectations of its workforce.

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