Tough penalties for criminal gang members

Published Tuesday, 15 October, 2013 at 02:25 PM

Attorney-General and Minister for Justice
The Honourable Jarrod Bleijie

Criminal motorcycle gang members will face mandatory jail terms of up to 25 years as part of a range of new and increased penalties to be introduced in Parliament by the Newman Government today.

Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Jarrod Bleijie said the tough response would make Queensland’s streets safer and would act as a deterrent for further offending.

“We are sending a loud and clear message to criminal motorcycle gangs and other criminal organisations that their illegal and violent activities will not be tolerated,” Mr Bleijie said.

“Under our Vicious Lawless Association Disestablishment Bill, criminal gang members convicted of certain offences will be declared ‘vicious lawless associates’ and hit with an extra 15 years mandatory jail time on top of their sentence.

“A further mandatory term of 10 years will apply if the offender is an office bearer of the criminal organisation.

“Tattoo parlours will also require licenses from next year. Current and prospective proprietors will need to be fit and proper persons and will undergo police checks before their application is approved.

“The punishment is deliberately and unapologetically severe because we want to break the bikies - break their enterprise, break their spirit, break up their groups.”

Mr Bleijie said three new offences, specifically targeting criminal gangs, would also be created.

The new offences are:

  • Knowingly gathering in groups of three or more members in a public place (including riding)
  • Going to banned locations (e.g. clubhouses)
  • Promoting or recruiting for the organisation.

“These new offences will carry mandatory six month jail terms, with a maximum of three years in prison,” Mr Bleijie said.

“We are also increasing penalties for existing offences if they are committed by criminal motorcycle gang members.”

Increased penalties include:

  • Mandatory one year in prison for serious assault of a police officer
  • Mandatory six months in prison for affray with the maximum penalty increased from one year to seven years
  • An $11,000 fine (double the current penalty) and disqualified license for two years for evading police.

Mr Bleijie said the reforms would also strengthen Queensland’s crime fighting bodies and courts.

“We will give the Crime and Misconduct Commission unprecedented powers to haul in CMG members and question them for intelligence gathering purposes. If members don’t co-operate, they face mandatory jail time,” Mr Bleijie said.

“The cone of silence these gangs employ when questioned will soon work against them.

“If they don’t answer questions during coercive hearings by the Crime and Misconduct Commission, they face mandatory jail time for contempt. If they refuse again, they get more jail time.”

Mandatory jail terms for contempt are:

  • First offence – at the Supreme Court’s discretion
  • Second offence – two-and-half years
  • Third offence – five years.

“Criminal motorcycle gang members also face losing their pride and joy,” Mr Bleijie said.

“If a member uses his bike immediately before, during or after committing many of these offences, we will confiscate it and crush it. Without his bike, he’s just another thug.

“Other vehicles used by gangs will also be able to be confiscated and crushed under the reforms.

“These new and increased penalties will apply only to criminal gang members. Law abiding motorbike riders have nothing to worry about.

“The Queensland community demanded and deserves a tough response to the violence and intimidation of these groups and the best way we can achieve that is to get their members off the streets.”

[ENDS] 15 October 2013

Media Contact: Ashley McDermid 0412 731 355 or Katherine Hornbuckle 0402 862 351