OUTLAW bikies and criminals will be banned from hanging out together or interacting online under tough new anti-consorting laws.
In an unprecedented crackdown on organised crime in Victoria, new legislation will allow police to stop people convicted of a crime from associating at the pub, at clubhouses or even on social networking sites such as Facebook.
The move is expected to cripple criminal networks across the state, with anyone caught flouting the new rules facing three years in jail and $54,600 in fines.
The latest round of anti-bikie legislation allows Victoria Police to issue a warning about consorting and, if the directive is ignored multiple times, charges can be filed.
Attorney-General Martin Pakula said the move would help disrupt organised crime networks and the supply of ice in Victoria.
“Crime gangs are becoming more sophisticated, particularly in terms of recruiting new members online and on social media,’’ he said.
“These anti-consorting reforms give police the powers they need to disrupt and dismantle criminal gangs. The law will ensure that Victoria has modern consorting provisions that keep up with the sophisticated forms of organised crime facing us in 2015.’’
The Criminal Organisations Control Amendment (Unlawful Associations) Bill 2015 will be introduced to Parliament this week. The move will bring Victoria’s rules into line with New South Wales, which tightened restrictions in 2014.
The new laws will also give new powers to the elite Echo taskforce, which has already ramped up its crackdown on outlaw motorcycle gangs in the past 12 months.
The group has conducted several raids, which have uncovered a trove of guns, bullets, exotic weapons, drugs and hundreds of thousands of dollars cash inside clubhouses or associates properties.
Sources revealed their actions saw the Comanchero bikie gang lose their status as Victoria’s most powerful organised criminal gang after coming under pressure in April.
The gang was forced to shut clubhouses in South Melbourne and Hallam after police charged members with hundreds of offences.
Earlier this year new police commissioner Graham Ashton warned Victoria’s anti-consorting laws must be beefed up to stop bikie gangs going across state borders to flout weaker penalties.
The latest overhaul is expected to signal Victoria is not a haven for clubs operating outside of the law.
It is understood bikie gangs are key players in the supply of ice in Victoria. The new lab will allow chemical profiling of drugs found in raids, helping authorities to map the territories occupied by major drug syndicates. On Saturday, dozens of people attended the Hell’s Angels international anniversary party in Heidelberg.