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AU-Confiscate bikies’ patches, motorcycles: expert‏

December 7, 2009

Confiscate bikies’ patches, motorcycles: expert‏

Police should strike at the heart of motorcycle gangs, confiscating the patches and bikes of club members if they break the law, according to a leading expert on bikie culture.

Arthur Veno, a professor at Monash University and the author of The Brotherhoods: Inside the Outlaw Motorcycle Clubs, believed proposed “anti-bikie” legislation aimed at dismantling bikie clubs by banning members from associating with each other was an attack on civil liberties and would not act as a solid deterrent to criminal behaviour.

It would follow the same path of similar laws that have been enacted in Canada and the United States and fall well short of having the desired effect in curbing bikie violence and crime, he predicted.

But according to Professor Veno, one way of sending a message to the motorcycle clubs if they become violent or commit serious crime is to confiscate their members’ pride and joy in the form of their club patches, motorbikes – even their clubhouses.

He said senior members of most motorcycle clubs wanted the criminal elements removed, after they were allowed in to some clubs after historic rules governing motorcycle riding were dropped.

Professor Veno claimed these more unorthodox punishments would be much more effective than anti-bikie legislation, which he deemed “unconstitutional” and a “knee-jerk reaction” by politicians to placate their electorates.

“A whole different strategy (is needed) to try and police the clubs,” he said.

“They’ve using this hammer approach but it does not work.

“Take their patches off (if they break the law), which will serve a really valuable function.”

Professor Veno said the anti-association laws “serve no end other than to give the appearance that law makers are doing something”.

“It is posturing and a hopeless and pitiful attempt to try to be seen to be tough on bikies – which is what the public wants,” he said.

He called on law enforcement agencies to “engage” with the clubs themselves to try and stamp out the criminality and said gangs that did not place a big emphasis on riding bikes and brotherhood should be put under greater scrutiny than others.

Professor Veno pointed to a recent policy report by Labor which showed outlaw motorcycle gangs were “incredibly resilient to law enforcement techniques”.

“(So) we’ve got to think outside the box,” he said. “We need a workable solution – not a hammer approach.”

Potential members should be deemed not worthy of the club by virtue of having a conviction, Professor Veno said, adding everyone wanted the criminals out of their clubs.

Michael Benes, a lecturer in criminal justice at RMIT University, said the proposed legislation was an erosion of civil liberties and said the laws had the potential to drive the members and their organisations deeper underground, making them even more harder for law enforcement agencies to penetrate.

He felt the best way to punish motorcycle clubs for committing serious crime would be to cripple the clubs by targeting their illegal proceeds.

“That would probably be far more effective (than anti-bikie legislation),” he said.

“Even if they (club members) are arrested, the illegal gain in the organisation has grown, so you’ve got to confiscate the proceeds and make them poorer, to make them less effective.

“The wealth supports the organisation so you’ve got to remove the heart.”

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