Critical gaps have been revealed in how the NSW Firearms Registry manages gun licences raising questions about the location of some firearms because of out-of-date data.
NSW Auditor-General Margaret Crawford on Thursday released a report into the Firearms Registry, which is part of the NSW Police, and found gaps in how it manages requirements for gun licence holders.
The registry doesn't proactively keep up to date with licence holder addresses and locations of firearm storages which is critical for public and police safety, the report said.
"Without having up-to-date details on addresses, the registry may lose track of both licence holders and firearms locations," the report said.
"An inherent risk is to police officers attending events without knowing whether there are firearms present."
The report found in October last year 1270 firearms were in possession of people with expired licences but police couldn't find a quarter of them because of incorrect addresses in the database.
It also raised issues about a lack of appropriate policies, guidance and supervision for staff when deciding to suspend or revoke licences.
"An additional and greater risk to public and police safety is that due to the limited supervision, staff may make unsound decisions not to suspend or revoke licences," the report said.
The registry commander told the auditor-general he's started a review to address these issues and will also implement a training program.
The report made 10 recommendations including that the registry conduct computer access audits, address data backlogs and introduce procedures to quality-review decisions about suspensions.
NSW Police Commissioner Michael Fuller said many of the findings fall out of the registry's control and are instead managed by third parties such as pistol clubs.
"This is a clear misunderstanding of the legislation and a misdirection of accountability," Mr Fuller said in his response to the report.
He added that licence holders are responsible for updating the registry of their change of address.
Gun Control Australia said the report identifies "alarming problems" and called on increased funds and resources to improve the registry.
Australian Associated Press