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Don’t ban bikie gangs, expert says

November 26, 2009

Don’t ban bikie gangs, expert says

An expert on bikie culture has condemned calls for special laws to control motorcycle gangs.

By PETER GREGORY

AN EXPERT on bikie culture has condemned calls for special laws to control motorcycle gangs following the leak of a police report that two bike groups were setting up operations in Victoria.

Arthur Veno, an academic and author of books about bikies, said yesterday that individual members of the Finks and Comanchero clubs had been in Victoria for years.

A confidential police report said the two gangs were looking for clubhouses in Melbourne and recruiting local members.

Dr Veno said Victoria had a world-class regime for dealing with outlaw motorcycle groups, many of which were already in Victoria.

He said draconian laws declaring the clubs illegal and targeting their associates were good for politicians wanting to appear tough on crime, but encouraged police resources to be diverted from other law enforcement areas.

“To put it in a nutshell for your readers, do you want your police dollar to be spent to see if I’m having a beer with a Fink, or do we want to stop a few burglaries?” he said.

Dr Veno said problems could be seen in the clubs that dropped rules about members riding motorcycles, because the organisations could then turn into criminal street gangs.

But Police Association secretary Greg Davies yesterday called for laws to be set up to control bikie gangs, saying many of them were ruthless. He said they had national and international connections, and substantial financial resources.

Mr Davies said Victoria Police presented a case nationally in 2000 for tougher motorcycle gang laws.

“Basically, Victoria Police put up the blueprint. All these other states adopted them, and we didn’t,” he said.

“Outlaw motorcycle gangs are so highly organised, many of them make a lot of their money out of the manufacture of amphetamines, stolen vehicles, all sorts of violent crime . . . there needs to be a package of legislation that will provide appropriate protection.”

South Australia has enacted laws targeting outlaw motorcycle gangs, but they were overturned in the state’s appeal court. The South Australian Government has sought special leave to appeal to the High Court against that decision.

Ironically, the Finks are at the centre of the landmark case after SA club members successfully appealed against control orders placed on them in May.

NSW has introduced similar legislation, and Queensland, Western Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory have indicated they will enact anti-bikie laws.

Mr Davies said the Comancheros had been involved in violent incidents in the past, and other notorious bikie groups were already in Victoria.

He said the Finks were closely aligned with the Hells Angels.

“It seems wherever they go, trouble follows.”

Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Simon Overland said Victoria had sufficient laws to tackle organised crime groups, including motorcycle gangs.

He said the laws did not stop them setting up clubhouses, but police would target the gangs, then arrest and charge them, and bring them before the courts if they were planning criminal activities.

“It is nonsense that we are somehow soft on bikies and soft on organised crime. It just doesn’t withstand scrutiny,” he said.

Mr Overland said the release of the confidential police report was a criminal offence, and police who made it public could expect to be charged if they were found.

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