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SA Government moves to ban bikie gang members from visiting associates in prison

By Isabel Dayman

Gang members would no longer be able to visit jailed associates if the legislation is passed.

AAP: Travis Anderson
Bikies would be banned from visiting their associates in prison, under new legislation to be introduced to South Australia's Parliament.

The SA Liberals promised a crackdown on drugs in prisons before winning the March state election.

If successful, the bill would create a blanket ban on members of outlaw motorcycle gangs visiting the state's prisons, to break the chain of communication between drug traffickers operating inside prisons and their outside connections.

Correctional Services Minister Corey Wingard said the State Government was determined to stop drugs getting into its correctional facilities.

"We know that drugs are getting into prisons and we also know that bikies are operating out of prisons," he said.

"We want to shut that down, and this legislation will make it nigh impossible for bikies to operate out of prison.

"We're going very, very hard on this because we have zero tolerance."

As of April 2018, a total of 162 prisoners known to be associated with bikie gangs were detained in South Australian prisons.

"In its current form, the [Correctional Services Act] provides no power to prevent members of organised crime groups from visiting prisons and associating with prisoners," Mr Wingard said.

He said police would work closely with the Correctional Services Department to implement the ban.

The bill also looks to introduce workplace drug and alcohol testing for prison officers, staff and contractors.

Mr Wingard said the new testing rules would apply to officers and staff working in private correctional facilities as well, namely the G4S operated Mount Gambier Prison.

"There will be a strict no-tolerance rule for people [prison officers and staff] under the influence of drugs and alcohol," he said.

"The Public Service Association has been very supportive of this [because] this is going to keep prison officers safe and it's going to keep drugs out."

Mr Wingard said he hoped the Labor Opposition would support the bill.