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Police at odds as bikie crackdown backfires

POLICE have gone into damage control after revelations that a bikie gang is moving into South Australia and the number of people joining gangs is rising.

About 40 people have joined bikie gangs in South Australia since the High Court ruled that parts of the Rann government's anti-association law, targeting outlawed motorcycle gangs, were invalid last November.

Two bikie clubrooms have also reopened and the Comancheros motorcycle club is reportedly opening an Adelaide operation after recruiting members of violent street gang the New Boys there.

Police assistant commissioner Grant Stevens said motorcycle gangs had been recruiting in the state over the past six months.

"We have information that there is a particular outlaw motorcycle gang looking for premises and I don't intend to elaborate on that any further."

He said the Crime Gangs Task Force had made about 900 arrests since 2007.

The South Australian government has promoted its "tough on crime" stance heavily and it was the first state to introduce the anti-association laws, followed by NSW.

Parts of the laws in both jurisdictions have since been ruled invalid by the High Court.

NSW police last week called for a national approach to dealing with bikies.

University of Western Sydney policing specialist and former organised crime detective Michael Kennedy said the nationalisation of anti-association laws should not be pursued as it would turn bikie gangs into "dangerous cults".

"I understand the sentiment of people looking for a national law . . . but what's probably lost in the debate is we're in a federation for good reasons and there's something fairly troubling with police in one state telling people in another state what to do," Dr Kennedy said.

Revelations of the bikie resurgence in South Australia have come after notorious West Australian Finks motorcycle club member Troy Mercanti fled across three states on his release from prison. He is believed to be in NSW.



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