The Sunshine state’s southern neighbour has slapped down a suggestion it is lagging when it comes to cracking down on criminals.
This morning, it was reported that the Queensland Police Service [QPS] had weighed into the debate about how best to deal with bikies by suggesting NSW should follow its lead and implement tough laws that prevent members of outlaw motorcycle gangs from meeting.
NSW had more than 30 instances of bikie-related incidents in a two-year period, its Queensland counterparts said in a submission to the state’s Task Force on Organised Crime Legislation. The review is looking into Queensland’s controversial vicious lawless association disestablishment, or VLAD, laws enacted in 2013.
North of the border things could not be more different, they claim. “The QPS is not aware of any acts of violence of this nature that have occurred in Queensland since the introduction of the 2013 legislation,” reported the Daily Telegraph.
“However, other jurisdictions that do not have the benefit of legislation similar to Queensland continue to experience this type of violent activity.”
Or in other words, buck your ideas up NSW.
But, like a State of Origin decider that seemed all wrapped up by the maroons, until the blues pulled a rabbit of the hat, NSW had other ideas.
Rather than get into a tit-for-tat argument about who did it better, this morning the NSW Police simply announced it had arrested a slew of bikie gang members. Coincidence maybe, but it suggested they could do without Queensland’s advice on how to cope with crims.
“We are committed to ensuring that those involved in these activities are detected and prosecuted,” said Detective Superintendent Peter Thurtell, about the operation which targeted the Taree chapter of the Rebels outlaw motorcycle gang [OMCG] on the NSW Mid North Coast.
About 4am on Tuesday, local police and members of the Strike Force Raptor gangs squad, raided a clubhouse at Glenthorne, south of Taree, and searched a home in nearby Gloucester.
A 32-year-old member of the Rebels’ Taree chapter was arrested and charged with assault, intimidation, and firearms possession.
A further eight people, aged between 22 and 51 were charged with various offences ranging from drug supply and possession to the unsafe keeping of firearms. All will appear at court in the coming months.
During the two-day operation, detectives also seized firearms, methylamphetamine and cannabis.
Supt Thurtell said the raids sent a strong message to bikies in NSW: “It is great to see police making such great inroads in relation to the activity of OMCGs and we will continue to fight crime in the area.”
‘CHOC-TOP OR VANILLA’
Tuesday’s action follows the arrest of 17 alleged members of the Rebels on the Central Coast earlier this month.
NSW was doing just fine, despite not having Queensland’s far reaching laws in place, a spokesman for Police Minister Troy Grant told the Telegraph.
“The NSW Police Force is making major inroads into outlaw motorcycle gangs by creating a hostile environment for OMCGs to operate and increasing the risks of being a member.”
Queensland’s VLAD laws make it an offence to recruit into a gang, to wear colours into a licensed premise, gather at gang premises or be in public with three or more gang participants.
Police say the laws have allowed them to make headway in operations targeting the Rebels, Mongols and Bandidos and any watering down of the legislation could encourage the gangs to become more overt, particularly in strongholds such as the Gold Coast.
But critics have said elements of the legislation, such as the laws that bar gang members, even those with no criminal record, from gathering are far too broad and have resulted in few convictions.
Last August, a case against five alleged bikies who were arrested while buying ice cream on the Gold Coast collapsed with the men’s lawyer remarking, “The biggest controversy was whether it should be a choc-top or a vanilla ice cream”.
‘LAWS IN NSW MORE ROBUST THAN IN QUEENSLAND’
Bond University’s Dr Terry Goldsworthy, a former Detective Inspector and an expert in bikies, said laws in NSW, which only barred known criminals from gathering, were actually more “robust” than Queensland’s legislation.
“If you don’t want to see bikies in groups the association laws are a success, but if it’s about criminal associating it’s been a dismal failure,” he told news.com.au earlier this month.
“The police may have actually taught these people lessons in being covert. Don’t roam around on a Harley Davidson, don’t have a jacket saying Hell’s Angels, cover up your tatts,” he said.
“We’ve been told it’s a raging success but when you actually look at the details it hasn’t reduced overall crime and the impacts been overstated.”
Michael Niland, Commander of Taskforce Maxima, Queensland’s anti bikie strike force told news.com.au he disagreed.
“Over the past two-and-a-half years we’ve charged 2583 offenders on 8626 charges relating to criminal activities by OMCG members, associations and linked crime networks,” he said earlier this month.
He admitted there had been few convictions for gang members associating but said that some cases were awaiting the outcome of the VLAD laws review.
“You can’t measure success by arrests alone,” Mr Niland said. “But the absence of public violence has kept the community safer and as a result of not having to focus on attending clubhouses and large gatherings we’ve been able to focus our resources on the criminal activities of these outlaw gangs.”