What is NABIS?

The National Ballistics Intelligence Service (NABIS) is tasked with gathering and disseminating fast time intelligence on the criminal use of firearms to the police service and partner agencies. One of its primary functions is to identify the types of weapons that are being used illegally and co-ordinating national activity to remove these weapons from circulation.

What does NABIS deliver?

NABIS delivers:

  • A compulsory registry of recovered firearms and ammunition used in crime, as well as recovered firearms and ammunition that enter police possession through any means. This Database provides strategic and tactical intelligence capable of focusing law enforcement activity.
  • A Database that provides strategic and tactical intelligence capable of focusing law enforcement activity.
  • A Knowledge and Communications unit which provides essential support to the other key NABIS functions by developing liaison opportunities between NABIS and its partners, delivering an integrated national communications and media strategy and capturing, developing and disseminating good practice in relation to gun crime.

For more information on the services provided by NABIS, please see the Criminal Use of Firearms Site on POLKA which can be found here.

In addition to providing links between firearms crimes, how else does NABIS aid investigators?

The NABIS Database allows analysis of all ballistic and intelligence submissions to develop tactical and strategic intelligence. This is developed by the NABIS Intelligence Cell into intelligence products that are disseminated by the National Intelligence Model NIM Tasking and Co-ordination processes at level 1 (to forces), level 2 (via Regional Intelligence Units (RIUs) and level 3 (NCA).

What is NABIS Forensic Services?

NABIS provides a dedicated forensic service to analyse ballistic material from across the UK. NABIS Forensic Hubs utilise cutting edge technology to connect incidents nationwide, where ballistic material has been recovered.

NABIS then shares the forensic analysis information, to create a national picture that links the criminal use of firearms across the country.

What is the NABIS Intelligence Cell?

The NABIS Intelligence Cell provides strategic and tactical intelligence associated with the criminal use of firearms in the UK. This takes the form of compiling information about people, objects, locations and events. This information is linked to gun crime incidents and ballistic items both contemporaneously and retrospectively on a daily basis. It is disseminated by way of intelligence packages which include narratives relating to the use of criminally held firearms.

What is NABIS Knowledge and Communications?

This element of the service provides support to NABIS centrally as well as police forces and law enforcement agencies involved in tackling the criminal use of firearms. Knowledge and Communications also helps to with legislative development and provides stakeholders and partners with a coherent and consistent approach to tackling gun crime through access to professional practical development and media support.

How do forces and law enforcement agencies send ballistic items to NABIS?

As part of the service provided by NABIS, all ballistic items that are being sent to one of the NABIS Hubs are collected from police forces. To ensure that the ballistic material is secure, police forces sort the items into security tagged boxes with paperwork lists of what is in each. Details of the material and the incident it was recovered from are entered onto the NABIS Database prior to it being sent to the hub. The boxes are then opened at the relevant hub and are checked against the paperwork before being examined.

Can the NABIS hubs provide trace evidence recovery (TER) services?

At present, only the Central and Scottish hub offer TER services. The provision of this service is available to forces, however, as it is not covered by the annual NABIS subscription fee, there is a charge to forces in England and Wales. There is no additional charge for TER services in Scotland as this is covered within forensic budgets.

Can I still obtain services from external forensic service providers, or do I have to send everything to the NABIS hub?

An SIO may decide that ballistic items need to be submitted to an external forensic service provider for evidential work. However, it is important to note that the Open Case Files are held at the NABIS hubs, therefore, firearm-to-scene and scene-to-scene ballistic links from previous shootings can only be provided by NABIS. Checking ballistic items against open case files can compromise trace evidence opportunities. Examinations to recover trace evidence should therefore be carried out prior to any open case file work in the NABIS Forensic Hub. Ballistic items which have been sent to an FSP must, on completion of examination be sent to a NABIS forensic hub to ensure central collation and management of intelligence. All ballistic items that meet the NABIS Submission Criteria should be submitted to NABIS Hubs as a matter of urgency.

Do you provide Remand Statements out of hours?

No. NABIS scientists are only able to provide remand statements during office hours. Out of hours services are provided by Forensic Service Providers or Force Armourers.

What are the Open Case Files (OCF)?

The Open Case Files (OCF) consist of bullets and cartridge cases recovered from crime scenes which have not been linked to a recovered weapon. The live open case files contain the physical exhibits relating to the last five years of ballistic material submitted to NABIS or to the Forensic Science Service (FSS) in preceding years.

Do the NABIS hubs work to the same standards as other areas of forensic science?

All NABIS hubs are accredited by UKAS to ISO 17025.

In what instances should I request the assistance of the SPA Firearms Unit?

The SPSA Firearms Unit should be contacted in all instances where a firearm has been discharged in Scotland. The Unit are available 24/7 to give advice on all firearms enquiries.

What is the NABIS Database?

The NABIS Database is a national system for the recording of gun crime incidents. The details of the incident are entered on the database along with information about the ballistic material that has been recovered. The information regarding these items is linked to other intelligence. All this information is accessible to the Senior Investigating Officer (SIO) and the Force Intelligence Bureau (FIB) at the touch of a button.

Who has access to the NABIS Database?

Access to the Database is Restricted and users only have access to areas of the database where the information is relevant to their role.

What are inferred firearms?

An inferred firearm is created on the NABIS Database to illustrate the presence of a weapon that has been identified from recovered ballistic material however the firearm has yet to be recovered. This information is sent to forces where the inferred firearm has been identified, to enable them to know what firearms are being used in their force area.

What are police forces required to do for NABIS?

The NABIS Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) places an obligation on police forces and law enforcement partners to ensure that all relevant ballistic material is submitted to NABIS Forensic Services as soon as practicable after it has been recovered. In addition it aims to ensure that police forces are responsible for putting the initial information onto the NABIS Database before sending the ballistic items to one of the NABIS Hubs. This includes information about the description of the material and how it was recovered, as well as people and Organised Crime Group information.

How will the MoU help NABIS?

A failure or delay in utilising the capabilities of the NABIS service could limit the effectiveness of local and national investigations into the criminal use of firearms with possible gun crime linkages remaining unknown and unexplored. The MoU places an obligation on police forces and law enforcement partners to ensure essential tasks are undertaken and completed for the benefit of law enforcement across the country.

What requirements does the MoU place on NABIS?

NABIS is currently required to deliver against its existing Service Level Agreement (SLA) regarding NABIS Forensic Services. Once the MoU is in force NABIS will also have to deliver management information relating to how a force or agency performs against the MoU.

Does NABIS work with international law enforcement partners?

Yes. NABIS works with international partners such as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) in the United States as well as partners from across Europe and the world.


NABIS database