- The Criminal Law (Unlawful Consorting and Prohibited Insignia) Bill 2021 has passed through Parliament
- New crime of consorting contrary to an unlawful consorting notice will attract a maximum five-year jail term
- New offence of displaying insignia of an identified organisation in a public place will attract a maximum 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 maximum 12 month jail term and $12,000 fine
Police now have the power to target individuals involved in serious and organised crime and disrupt their activities by banning them from associating with one another and wearing their patches.
Police will also have improved powers to prohibit consorting between convicted child sex offenders to better protect the community from the risk of future offending.
Tough new consorting and insignia laws have passed through State Parliament, making Western Australia the toughest jurisdiction for offenders and criminal organisations like outlaw bikie gangs to operate or expand their criminal activities.
The robust, fair and efficient laws give WA Police unprecedented powers to disrupt and restrict serious and organised crime through the introduction of 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 crackdown, WA Police can issue an unlawful consorting notice on an offender, which prohibits 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 penalised.
Comments attributed to Premier Mark McGowan:
"This Government is serious about stopping organised crime and protecting the community from the intimidation and violence carried out by bikie gangs.
"We will not tolerate outlaw motorcycle gangs or any organised criminal activity in Western Australia.
"These new laws will hit bikie gangs hard, by taking away their ability to communicate or associate with each other."
Comments attributed to Attorney General John Quigley:
"We've seen in recent times how violent conflict between OMCGs has exposed law-abiding members of our community to extreme risk.
"These laws unapologetically target those individuals and organisations involved in carrying out criminal activity and causing public harm.
"Under the new regime, criminal gangs will be banned from advertising, recruiting, intimidating and committing violent acts in public, or face serious penalties.
"These laws send the strongest message yet to organised criminal groups in Western Australia, or those thinking to expand their networks into our State, that their criminal activities are not welcome and they will not be tolerated."
Comments attributed to Police Minister Paul Papalia:
"We won't tolerate our neighbourhoods being used by bikie gangs to carry out their criminal activities and standover tactics.
"These laws will be closely followed by firearms reforms which are again aimed squarely at bikies and organised crime gangs.
"Our Gang Response Squad will continue to be relentless in pursuing these gangs and we will support our police with the laws they need to continue to target and disrupt their activities."
Premier's office - 6552 5000
Attorney General's office - 6552 6800
Police Minister's office - 6552 5600