AFP gets big funding boost for more biometric, digital cops

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AFP gets big funding boost for more biometric, digital cops

$321m for more than 300 extra police.

The 2017 federal budget will pour $321.4 million into the Australian Federal Police to hire hundreds of extra cops in an effort to beef up areas including biometrics and digital forensics.

The announcement comes in the lead up to Tuesday's budget speech and less than a week after it was revealed the AFP breached the country's data retention laws by accessing a journalist's records without a warrant.

The budget funding announced today is the largest boost for the AFP in a decade.

It will allow the AFP to hire 300 new officers across intelligence, tactical response, covert surveillance, and forensics. The money will be allocated over four years.

The Turnbull government said the cash would "equip the AFP with new capabilities and greater flexibility to respond rapidly to emerging crimes today, and into the future".

"The additional experts will fast-track investigations and lock up criminals sooner, targeting areas of priority including terrorism, criminal gangs, drugs, organised crime, cybercrime, fraud and anti-corruption," the government said in a statement.

Amongst the new hires will be digital forensics, biometrics, covert online, technical, forensic intelligence, and operational intelligence experts, the government said.

More biometrics experts specifically will be needed to handle the new facial recognition capability that is soon to be added to the national fingerprint identification system (NAFIS), operated by law enforcement information sharing agency CrimTrac.

The funding boost is the "first step in the AFP’s 10-year plan to deliver a new vision for the organisation", the government said.

"This will make the AFP a more responsive and robust organisation, with expert skills and world-leading technology at its core."

It is unclear whether the government will fund a second attempt for the AFP to deliver a replacement to its legacy core PROMIS crimes database.

The force has been struggling to move off the system since 2007. 

It signed a deal with Elbit after its first approach to market failed to surface any viable options, but cancelled the $145 million project and terminated the deal in 2015 due to “significant challenges in meeting project objectives”.

At the time it said moving off the ageing and rigid system was still a "priority", but in August last year the AFP had still yet to apply for funding or any undertake any new procurement activity.

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