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Bikie crime in the ACT overstated: report

Criminologist and former cop Dr Terry Goldsworthy's review of ACT Police's powers to target bikies said there had been no dramatic increase in the number of members in the ACT.
But the opposition has maintained their calls for anti-consorting laws, saying ACT had become a safe haven for bikies.

Mr Goldsworthy, who is an outspoken critic of anti-consorting laws, said bikie crime perceptions did not always correspond to reality. His report, tabled in the ACT Legislative Assembly on Thursday, noted there had been no recorded murders by bikie members in the last 19 years.

The report said ACT was the only state or territory without some variation of anti-consorting or anti-association laws.
"When faced with moral panic, it is often the knee jerk reaction of governments to enact draconian laws that have little real practical value," it read.
The report said while the number of gangs in the ACT had increased from two to four between 2015 and 2019, the number of members and associates had decreased from 64 to 51. It said members committed less than one per cent of crime in the ACT, and serious offences represented only 16.5 per cent of overall charges on bikie members.
The gang members were minor contributors to the number of overall drug and violence offences.
"The media's preoccupation and perceptions do not match the reality of the [out law motorcycle gangs'] criminality in the ACT," the report read.
The review made 15 recommendations, including that the ACT does not introduce a consorting style offence. The report came as Attorney-General Gordon Ramsay introduced a bill into the Assembly that would give police the power to confiscate money or assets when a person can't show they have been legally obtained.
The ACT is the only jurisdiction without an unexplained wealth scheme.
The scheme was a recommendation of the Goldsworthy review.
Mr Ramsay said the report showed the steps the government was taking to clamp down on bikies were working.
"We don't underestimate and we don't downplay the impact that outlaw motorcycle gangs ... can have in the ACT," Mr Ramsay said. But he said the report placed the risk in perspective, and it showed the ACT was a safe community.
Shadow Attorney-General Jeremy Hanson said bikies saw the ACT as a safe haven.
"The facts are quite simple, since other states introduced bikie consorting laws they've seen a decline in bikie gang numbers and activity," he said.
"We've seen a fourfold increase in bikie gangs and an explosion of violence in the suburbs. We are committed to community safety, no law is a silver bullet but we want to give our police all the tools necessary so they can go out and deal with the bikie problem."


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