SSBA Guideline 5 Reporting to Law Enforcement or the National Security Hotline – July 2014

Practical checklist covering transport requirements for security-sensitive biological agents (SSBAs).

Page last updated: 24 July 2020

PDF printable version of Guideline 5 Reporting to Law Enforcement or the National Security Hotline (PDF 112 KB)

Release Date: July 2014


This guideline provides an overview of the process that should be followed if an entity or facility has an incident that must be reported to law enforcement or should be reported to the National Security Hotline.

Law Enforcement (Police)

Mandatory reporting to law enforcement, in addition to reporting to the Department of Health (Health), is a requirement of the National Health Security Act 2007 (NHS Act) for certain events.

The following must be reported to law enforcement as soon as possible and within 24 hours after discovery of the event or after you become aware of the event:

  • theft1 of a security sensitive biological agent (SSBA)
  • attempted theft1 of an SSBA;
  • unauthorised access to a place in which an SSBA is handled or sensitive information (as defined by the NHS legislation) is stored, including its storage container;
  • attempted unauthorised access to a place in which an SSBA is handled or sensitive information (as defined by the NHS legislation) is stored, including its storage container;
  • loss1 of an SSBA; and
  • unsuccessful transfer (incomplete arrival or evidence of tampering) of an SSBA.

Who Should You Contact?

In order of priority, contact:

  • In an emergency (imminent threat, life or death situation), dial triple zero (000).
  • If it is not an emergency, using the list below, contact the police in your jurisdiction.
  • The Department of Health (Health) during business hours on (02) 6289 7477 or after hours on (02) 6289 3030.

Jurisdictional Law Enforcement Agencies

Jurisdiction Contact Details
ACT Policing 131 444
Western Australia Police 0427 389 123 - State Security Investigation Group
South Australia Police In the first instance please contact the State Protective Security Branch on (08) 8204 2839 if unanswered please contact the Police Communications Senior Sergeant on (08) 8207 4488 and request the on-call State Protective Security Branch staff member be notified of the incident.
Tasmania Police During business hours please contact the Counter Terrorism Unit (03) 6230 2500. After Hours please call 131 444 and ask to speak to the supervisor of Radio Dispatch Services and request notification of the report to be made to the Director Counter Terrorism Unit.
Northern Territory Police 131 444
Queensland Police Service In the first instance please contact (07) 3364 6315 if unanswered please contact 0417 706 899.
New South Wasles Police Force 0448 440 802 – Counter-Terrorism and Special Tactics Command
Victoria Police (03) 9247 5835 – Security Intelligence Group

What If You Are Unsure Of Whether Something Is A Reportable Event?

If in doubt, please contact Health on the contact information listed above. An alternative source of advice is the Australian Federal Police Weapons Technical Intelligence (WTI) team. WTI can be contacted on 02 5126 9175 during business hours, A 24-hour urgent response is available through AFP National Switchboard 5126 0000 (ask for WTI). WTI can provide technical advice to law enforcement and entities on the potential for malicious use of harmful biological agents.

Information You May Be Asked To Provide

This list is not exhaustive and details may change depending on the incident.

  • Who is making the report (details of the caller, entity, facility and contact details)?
  • Contact person details (name, entity, facility and contact details).
  • What has happened (theft, attempted theft, unauthorised access, etc.)?
  • Who have you already reported this incident to?
  • When did the event happen (when was it first discovered)?
  • Where did it happen (location of facility)?
  • How did it happen (broken lock, property damage etc.)?
  • What is the immediate risk/danger posed by the event?
  • Offender details (description, vehicle, clothing).
  • Is any SSBA(s) missing? If so:
    • how much of the SSBA(s) is missing?
    • how was it packaged?
    • what does the packaging look like?
    • how does it need to be maintained for example, cold/hot?
  • Who has the SSBA now?
  • What is the threat to the community?
    • how dangerous or toxic is the SSBA?
    • what are the effects of exposure to or infection by the SSBA?
  • Are there any safety issues (assembly points, personal protective equipment)

When providing information to police you should be mindful of the information that you are providing and notify them if the information is sensitive in nature.

You should ask for a job number from the police when reporting the incident. You will need to provide this number to the National Security Hotline (if applicable) and Health when reporting the incident.

Suspicious behaviour

Suspicious behaviour and activities such as theft of equipment and related information should be reported to the National Security Hotline on 1800 123 400 and to law enforcement; however, is not a mandatory reportable event under the NHS Act.

For further information on suspicious behaviour please refer to the guideline prepared by the Australian Federal Police – Indicators of Suspicious Behaviour in Laboratories Handling SSBA. You can request a copy of this guideline by emailing your details to SSBA.

  1. For further information, see Guideline 4 – Defining Loss, Theft and Accidental Release of SSBAs.