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Government to double prison terms for gang members

March 5, 2009

Government to double prison terms for gang members

The government presented its proposals to prevent and deter criminal gangs that will see maximum sentences being doubled for gang-related crime

Mikkelsen warned those involved in gang activity: ‘bikers and immigrant gangs will not have a moment’s peace.’ (Photo: Kyle Wheeler)

The government presented its so-called ‘gang package’ yesterday evening, outlining its plans to crack down on criminal gangs engaging in open street violence and shootings.

Justice Minister Brian Mikkelsen announced the government’s intention to double the prison terms handed down to offenders connected to the gang environment. The necessary law change proposals will come before parliament in the coming weeks.

Those found in possession of a loaded weapon now face a one year sentence for their first offence, while serious violence will in future be met with a three-year jail term.

The prison term for intimidation of witnesses to gang violence will also be doubled under the new measures.

‘This is a tough package and the bikers and immigrant gangs will not have a moment’s peace. The police will be constantly nipping at their heels,’ said Mikkelsen.

The government also wants to introduce better measures for emergency personnel. Those who prevent the emergency services from carrying out their work will face a jail term of 18 months. If violence or threats are involved, the maximum penalty will be eight years imprisonment.

New measures to deport gang members who are not Danish citizens and who are found in possession of illegal weapons are also being considered.

The new package also outlined preventative and investigate measures that will be introduced to prevent gang crime. Advisory councils to help prevent the recruitment of young people into gangs will be established in affected areas, while police will be allowed to use wire tapping in their investigations of weapons smuggling and dealing.

The plan has received backing from both the Social Democrats and the Socialist People’s Party (SF) – a party which is traditionally against elevating maximum penalties.

SF party chairman Villy Søvndal said that the government’s plan is necessary if the gangs are to be prevented from taking over the streets.

The plan comes on top of recent announcements that the number of police on the streets of Copenhagen will be increased.

Last weekend saw a spate of three shootings linked to the ongoing conflict between the Hells Angels bikers and immigrant gangs, which left two dead and another four injured.

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