Tough new WA laws to break up outlaw bikie gangs and criminal organisations will come into force on Saturday after being passed by Parliament late last year.
Police Minister Liza Harvey told Parliament earlier this month that the Government did not expect to secure any convictions under the anti-association laws until at least mid next year.
The State Government has faced ridicule from the Opposition for delaying the proclamation of the Bill, saying it was because the Government was awaiting the outcome of High Court challenges to similar laws in other States.
Attorney General Michael Mischin said today the State Government’s organised crime laws will give WA Police new powers, backed by stronger penalties.
He said the Criminal Organisation Control Bill 2011 aimed to break up gangs and criminal organisations.
Mr Mischin said the laws meant that groups could be declared criminal organisations - and their members would risk going straight to prison if they associated with each other.
“This legislation will help WA Police to dismantle bikie gangs which wilfully and openly break the law and manufacture and distribute drugs for profit,” Mr Mischin said.
“It will give police and courts the ability to specifically target those who band together for criminal activity and to commit acts of violence and intimidation.
“Under the legislation, groups which associate to organise, plan and facilitate criminal activity and pose a risk to the public safety and order, could be declared criminal organisations by a judge,” he said.
“Once a criminal organisation has been ‘declared’, members could face control orders to stop them associating with other controlled persons; be banned from certain locations; prevented from promoting the organisation; or prohibited from transferring funds to the organisation.
Mr Mischin said the laws would also provide for mandatory minimum terms of jail for members of criminal organisations convicted of a range of serious offences.
“Strong penalties will ensure that if members of declared criminal organisations (DCO) members continued to offend, they will go to jail for such lengthy periods that the organisation would struggle to remain effective.”
“The legislation also strengthens asset confiscation laws by ensuring that all property owned by members of criminal organisations who commit a confiscations offence is presumed to be crime-derived property that may be seized under the State’s criminal property laws.”
The new penalties include up to:
- Two years jail for a first offence or five years jail for a subsequent offence of breaching a control order granted by the Supreme Court;
- Two years jail for anyone who allows their premises to be used for any organised crime;
- Five years jail for participating in the activities of a criminal organisation- Five years jail for recruiting members for a DCO;
- 20 years jail for instructing an offence for the benefit of a criminal organisation.