- The Criminal Law (Unlawful Consorting and Prohibited Insignia) Bill 2021 to be introduced into State Parliament
- Laws will disrupt and restrict the capacity of those involved in serious and organised crime to plan, support or encourage the carrying out of criminal activity
- New crime of unlawful consorting will attract a maximum five-year jail term
- New offence of displaying prohibited insignia will attract a 12 month jail term and fines of up to $12,000 or $60,000 for corporations
- New offence of consorting contrary to a dispersal notice will attract a 12 month jail term and $12,000 fine
Outlaw motorcycle gang members will be banned from wearing their patches and associating with one another in public under new laws to be introduced into Parliament this week.
Once passed, the laws will make Western Australia the jurisdiction with the toughest anti-consorting regime in the country, giving WA Police unprecedented powers to disrupt and restrict serious and organised crime.
The Criminal Law (Unlawful Consorting and Prohibited Insignia) Bill 2021 implements three key reforms:
- The prevention of unlawful consorting between offenders;
- The prohibition of displaying insignia of identified organisations in public; and
- Powers to disperse gang members who gather together in public places.
Under the new scheme WA Police can issue an unlawful consorting notice on an offender, which has the effect of prohibiting the association with other offenders named in the notice for three years. If the notice is breached on two or more occasions, the offender may be charged and sentenced to a maximum of five years imprisonment.
The legislation identifies 46 organisations from across Australia and prohibits the display of their insignia in a public place. An insignia removal notice scheme will enable WA Police to issue a notice requiring the removal or modification of insignia that is being displayed in a public place. WA Police will have the power to remove or modify the insignia for failure to comply.
Finally, a dispersal notice scheme will give WA Police the power to issue and enforce dispersal notices, with the intention of disrupting and restricting consorting between members of identified organisations occurring in a public place. A dispersal notice will prohibit a person from socialising with persons named in the notice for a period of seven days, with a breach attracting a 12 month prison sentence and a fine of $12,000.
The proposed laws include explicit safeguards, including oversight from the Ombudsman, to ensure that the new police powers are used appropriately and marginalised people in the community are not unfairly targeted.
Comments attributed to Attorney General John Quigley:
"These laws represent the toughest and most comprehensive reforms to fight organised crime of all Australian States and Territories.
"They demonstrate the McGowan Government's unwavering commitment to stopping the expansion of serious organised crime and criminal groups in WA once and for all.
"46 organisations, including outlaw motorcycle gangs from right across Australia, their affiliate gangs or "feeder clubs" and street gangs, have been captured and explicitly named in the legislation as part of the new prohibited insignia offence.
"These organisations and their patches are designed to show affiliation with criminality and intimidate others, including law-abiding citizens in our community. This will cease once these laws are in place.
"With this suite of reforms, we're unapologetically turning Western Australia into the most unappealing jurisdictions for offenders and criminal organisations to operate or expand their criminal activities."
Comments attributed to Police Minister Paul Papalia:
"We are determined to make WA a safe place, without the fear of bikies pursuing their own vendettas at the expense of law-abiding citizens.
"These new laws combined with other measures will give our police the powers they need to not only disrupt the illegal activities of these gangs, but work to eliminate bikie networks in WA altogether.
"The McGowan Government's resourcing of the WA Police Force has led to the seizure of record amounts of cash, drugs and illegal weapons, creating the greatest disruption to organised crime in decades.
"On top of boosting our Gang Response Squad with extra officers, we are ensuring police have the powers they need to systematically and methodically dismantle bikie gangs in this State."
Attorney Genneral's office - 6552 6800
Police Minister's office - 6552 5600