Thursday, January 16, 2020

No bikies jailed under tougher new laws

Brisbane, Queensland, Australia (January 16, 2020) BTN — Not one bikie has been jailed under Queensland's "tougher" consorting laws aimed at cracking down on motorcycle clubs involved in drugs, guns and fraud.

Despite 389 official warnings for consorting, only three people were charged last financial year, the Queensland Public Interest Monitor revealed. Those people were still before the courts.

Since the Palaszczuk government's "stronger and tougher laws" came into effect in 2017, two people have been convicted of habitual consorting.

The law banned outlaw motorcycle club members from wearing club colours in public and made it illegal for a person to habitually consort with two or more recognised offenders after being warned by police not to do so.

While no one had been convicted in at least two years, the report showed 237 pre-emptive verified warnings were issued in 2018-19 as well as 152 retrospective verified warnings and 129 consorting preventative directions.

Police Minister Mark Ryan said despite the lack of convictions the laws were working and were "the strongest, most comprehensive laws" in the nation. "The relatively small number of convictions in relation to habitual consorting laws demonstrates that members of outlaw motorcycle gangs know police will target them if they breach those laws," he said.

"The evidence shows that the vast majority of people issued with a habitual consorting notice are complying with the conditions imposed because they know not to do so will result in them being targeted by police."

LNP police spokesman Trevor Watts said the laws were "weak" and not working. “Bikies get a slap on the wrist and then Labor sends them back out into the community in no time," he said.

“Accused bikies were kept on remand and communities were kept safe under the LNP, but Annastacia Palaszczuk replaced tough laws with her weak consorting offence.

“The LNP will deliver action by bringing back our anti-consorting laws and cracking down on gun crime – we already have laws before the Parliament that include tougher penalties and new offences."

Related | Anti-consorting legislation to tackle organised crime

The bill Mr Watts referred to was introduced in May and would allow “high-risk” Queenslanders to be searched by police at any time, without a warrant. Mr Ryan said outlaw motorcycle club memberships were declining. "Many are throwing in their colours and many are behind bars," he said.

He said since the laws were introduced, 132 full patched members had disaffiliated and more than 2000 bikies had been charged with 11,735 offences.

Former Supreme Court justice Peter Lyons, who authored the report, said legislation was implemented on a district level, which allowed "policing resources to be quickly directed".

"There is no single centralised unit or individual responsible for state-wide monitoring and co-ordination of the way in which consorting is operationalised on a day-to-day basis," he wrote.

SOURCE: Brisbane Times