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Queensland detective slams state’s commitment to busting tackle outlaw motorcycle gangs

Paula Doneman, Crime Editor - 7NEWS Brisbane
  • Detective Senior Constable Shane Prior (inset) says Queensland Police aren’t doing enough to tackle bikie gangs. Credit: AAP (File image)

    A Queensland detective has said the state’s bikie busting task force is in a “dire state of affairs”.

    Taskforce Maxima has had no staff increases since its 2013 inception to combat outlaw gang driven organised crime, according to Detective Senior Constable Shane Prior.

    The police union vice president took aim at the Queensland Police Service (QPS) and the state government for leaving the taskforce under-resourced amid rising crime rates.

    He made the explosive claims in the latest Queensland Police Union journal, saying 80 per cent of Maxima investigators were on secondment.

    Prior claimed repeated QPS submissions to the state government to make the positions permanent have gone “unheard”.

    He stated that Taskforce Maxima relied on a model of mostly secondments, taking police from already struggling districts to bolster its numbers.

    First of its kind

    Taskforce Maxima was the first of its kind in Australia, but now holds the dubious distinction of being the only seconded bikie team in the country, Prior wrote.

    Prior also accused the Queensland Government and the QPS of playing a “gigantic hoax” on the public.

    “Apart from being a gigantic hoax played on the Queensland public for political gain and organisational reputation, the model has real and dire consequences for all parties concerned,’’ Prior wrote.

    “Districts already struggling to provide a modicum of effective police service to the community have over the years had to give up officers they can’t afford to lose to a task force that neither the government nor the QPS could be bothered to properly resource for seven years,’’ he wrote.

    Crime crackdown

    Taskforce Maxima was first formed in an unprecedented crackdown under the Newman LNP government following the infamous Broadbeach brawl on the Gold Coast in 2013.

    There was a high number of bikies who resigned their memberships after bans on bikie associations and clubhouses forced most to close down.

    The current Palaszczuk government repealed those laws, bringing in its own legislation to tackle outlaw motorcycle gangs (OMCG) in 2017.

    Taskforce Maxima was retained and became part of the Organised Crime Gangs Group under a restructure of the QPS Crime Command.

    Detective Senior Constable Shane Prior wrote a scathing piece in the union journal.

    Detective Senior Constable Shane Prior wrote a scathing piece in the union journal. Credit: Supplied

    Since the change in legislation, Queensland now has the highest number of OMCGs in its history with the arrival of three new gangs – the Comancheros, Saturdarah and the Mongrel Mob.

    Prior said the re-emergence of bikies on Queensland street was not a priority for the government.

    “Taskforce Maxima have been impressive. But neither the QPS nor the Government can lay any claim to that success. The achievements have been made by the officers on the ground, the men and women who are at the coal face dealing with the often belligerent, violent, and dangerous members of OMCGs on a continuing basis, in spite of the apathetic attitude of those in power and a growing sense of helplessness and lack of control in their careers,’’ Prior wrote.

    An unstable model

    QPU president Ian Leavers told 7NEWS the taskforce’s model of temporary positions creates a great instability within the squad as officers are trained up and then recalled back to their original positions.

    “This situation is simply not good enough. We need the creation of permanent positions within Task Force Maxima to ensure we have an experienced, stable group of officers trained and ready to combat OMCGs within our state,’’ Leavers said.

    In a statement, a QPS spokesperson said Taskforce Maxima was Australia’s longest-standing specialist OMCG unit, which was a blend of permanent positions and temporary secondments to build “organisational capability”.

    The service said the taskforce had the same number of permanent positions since 2017 but could not comment on staffing and resource levels for operational reasons.

    “In 2019, 1,412 people were charged with 4,131 offences by Organised Crime Gangs Group, the highest in any year since Taskforce Maxima was established, eclipsing the benchmark set in 2018,’’ the QPS statement said.

    It also said Taskforce Maxima worked with local, interstate and national law enforcement.

    “Taskforce Maxima is successful in reducing gang presence, intimidation and threat to the public. Queensland has no clubhouses, no mass bikie gatherings and no national runs,’’ the QPS statement said.

    Since 2015, 51 restraining orders have been obtained over property worth more than $16.207 million and in six years, reduced the number of OMCG patched members from 865 to 644 in Queensland.

    The QPS said Taskforce Maxima has developed several initiatives including the first in the country to develop a domestic and family violence strategy after it identified the risk to women in relationships with gang members.