The laws target outlaw bikies and
aim to stop convicted criminals associating with each other.
consorting laws aimed at stopping convicted criminals associating
with each other are back in the spotlight, with newly released
figures showing 336 consorting warnings have been issued by North
Coast police since the laws were introduced.
Coffs-Clarence Police issued 16 consorting warnings to outlaw
motorcycle gang (OMCG) members but laid no charges between April
2012 and September 2015.
Police issued 86 warnings and no charges, while Richmond Police
issued 234 warnings, also with no charges laid.
released under a NSW Greens freedom of information request, show a
total of 8556 warnings were issued to 2412 people statewide, with 54
issue consorting warnings to anyone, regardless of whether they have
committed a crime, prohibiting them from interacting with a person
who has been convicted of a crime.
The laws were
established to target OMCGs and were upheld following a High Court
challenge initiated by Nomads bikies in 2014.
David Shoebridge is an outspoken critic of the laws, and said they
are being unfairly used to target people with no criminal links.
people on the North Coast are going to be subjected to restrictions
on their civil liberties - who they meet with, email and talk to -
because of a purported crime fear that arose in outer Western
Sydney," Mr Shoebridge said.
originally passed by parliament because police said they needed to
deal with outlaw motorcycle gangs.
"Now it is
being used across the board.
makes it a crime - not to harm somebody or steal their property -
but to meet with someone the police don't want you to meet with."
Coffs-Clarence Police conducting
checks on Mongols bikies travelling on the Pacific Hwy through
Coffs Harbour in April.
Crime Command's Gangs Squad commander, Detective Inspector Deb
Wallace, said the laws are an important tool to assist police in
aimed at convicted criminals and those who associate with them," Det
Insp Wallace said.
important to note that anyone who is charged with consorting has
already been formally warned by police on at least two occasions."
five recognised OMCGs operating in the Coffs-Clarence region,
including the Nomads, Rebels and Lone Wolf in Coffs Harbour, a
merged group of Mongols and Finks in Woolgoolga and the Gladiators
Coffs-Clarence Local Area Command crime manager, Detective Inspector
Darren Jameson, said police have zero tolerance for OMCG behaviour
in the community.
"Traditionally, OMCGs are involved in organised crime, prostitution,
fraud, standovers and significant drug supply," Det Insp Jameson
clubhouses here - the Rebels and Nomads - have already been closed
as a result of strong policing.
remains strongly on OMCGs - many here now have reduced numbers and
aren't as strong.
engage in mass vehicle stops for OMCG members coming into the
Coffs-Clarence area and utilise these to issue consorting warnings.
"We will use
every tactic available to us to disrupt and dismantle OMCG networks
in our community."