Members of a declared criminal organisation face mandatory minimum sentences if they are convicted of a range of offences, including associating with other member of the organisation. Photo: Luis Enrique Ascui
Outlaw motorcycle gang members could face up to five years' jail for associating with each other, with new laws set to target criminal organisation coming into effect on Saturday.
Attorney General Michael Mischin announced on Tuesday that the Criminal Organisations Control Act would come into effect on Saturday, almost a year after the legislation was passed by parliament.
The laws mean police will be able to apply to the courts to have a group declared a criminal organisation. A successful application would see members of the declared criminal organisation face mandatory minimum sentences if they were convicted of a range of serious offences, including associating with other member of the organisation.
The penalties include:
- Two years' jail for a first offence or five years jail for a subsequent offence of breaching a control order granted by the Supreme Court
- Two years' jail for anyone who allows their premises to be used for any organised crime
- Five years' jail for participating in the activities of a criminal organisation
- Five years' jail for recruiting members for a declared criminal organisation
- 20 years' jail for instructing an offence for the benefit of a criminal organisation
"We will turn, with these new laws, their strengths against them by the ability to declare organisations criminal organisations and to attack those that are associated with these organisations," the Attorney General said.
Mr Mischin said the laws had not been declared earlier to allow police time to allocate resources and new organisational structures to apply the laws.
Assistant Police Commissioner Chris Dawson said police were currently preparing the first case against an organisation but would not reveal the name of the organisation.
The application will be made by a specialised team operating out of the state crime portfolio, with heavy input from the organised crime squad.
"If a person is a member of a declared organisation, should a court declare that those persons would not be able to go to certain places, such as a clubhouse, they would not be able to associate with other known members of the organisation," the Assistant Commissioner said.
Mr Mischin said he saw nothing unconstitutional about the laws, adding that he believed they would stand up to any court challenges.
"It's ironic that organisations who pride themselves on being the one percent outside of the law, that try to impress people and instill fear in them...suddenly become great civil libertarians when one interferes with their ability to commit crimes in an organised fashion.
"We will argue for the constitutionality of our laws... if it needs a fix, we will fix it."
Similar laws have been adopted in New South Wales, South Australia and the Northern Territory, while the most recent and extreme iteration of the laws have recently come into force in Queensland.
The Assistant Commissioner said there was intelligence suggesting the Queensland laws had resulted in some bikies relocating to Western Australia.