Criminals who text each other could be caught under the Queensland Government’s proposed organised crime laws. Photo: Glen Hunt GTHCriminals who text each other could be “consorting” and committing an offence under the Palaszczuk Government’s reforms to organised crime laws.
A public briefing was held on Monday afternoon as the Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee considers the Serious and Organised Crime Legislation Amendment Bill 2016.
Queensland Police Commissioner Ian Stewart said the new legislation meant officers did not have to head to pubs and racecourses to enforce the consorting law.
“So if A is meeting with B and C because they’re texting them, that’s a meeting,” Mr Stewart said.
“As long as it fits within the legislation, that can form the trigger to perform the first warning.”
The anti-association laws under which Queensland presently operates ban designated gang members and their associates from gathering in groups of three or more, regardless of whether they are facing charges, have convictions, or are wearing their gang insignia or colours.
Under the proposed bill it would be an offence to habitually consort with at least two recognised offenders, whether together or separately, and with at least one occasion happening after receiving an official warning.
Habitually consorting would include meeting with a recognised offender at least twice, but would not apply to a child.
Mr Stewart said if person A met person B and C – and if B and C had criminal records relevant to the legislation – an officer could officially warn the group.
“So if A again meets with B and C, that’s when the actual offence can occur,” he said.
“A does not need to have any criminal history. He simply consorts with two people who do have the appropriate levels of criminal history.”
There could also be “pre-emptive” consorting warnings. And Carolyn McAnally, from the Department of Justice and Attorney-General, said there could be retrospective consorting warnings, based on police viewing CCTV.
LNP member for Coomera Michael Crandon questioned whether person A could meet with B and C, and then B and D and E.
“He could keep on meeting all day every day with B but as long as one of the others – C, D, E or F… doesn’t come for a second occasion, there’s no offences?”
Ms McAnally said: “A can meet with B, A can meet with C, D and E. A is required to meet one further time with B, C or D, but not with them all together.”
Mr Stewart described the amendments as taking inspiration from some of the best legislation around Australia.
“I think it provides the appropriate balance that will protect the community from organised criminals (and) it will help protect our officers in their work,” he said.
The reforms would ban Queensland bikies from wearing their club colours anywhere in public, not just in pubs and clubs, as under the existing Vicious Lawless Association Disestablishment (VLAD) Act introduced by the former Newman government.
LNP member for Currumbin questioned whether innocent motorbike riders could be pulled over under the new laws.
But Mr Stewart said there had not been any complaints in the past two years from innocent bike riders, and commended the professional conduct of police officers.
“I would take you back a couple of years when that was a concern of many of the recreational motorcyclists,” he said.
“I have not seen one complaint in the last two years, an official complaint.
“It was a perception, it was a myth.”
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This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.