With the number of Outlaw Motorcycle Gang (OMCG) members living and operating in the ACT now at approximately 50 and with three gangs actively residing here, ACT Chief Police Officer (CPO) Justine Saunders has welcomed the news that the Federal Government will boost our resources for dealing with organised crime by embedding a National Anti-Gangs Squad (NAGS) liaison officer from the AFP within ACT Policing’s Taskforce Nemesis.
Assistant Commissioner Saunders outlined the latest OMCG figures for the Territory during a media conference in which she joined ACT Police Minister Mick Gentleman in welcoming the announcement by Federal Minister for Justice Hon Michael Keenan MP today that NAGS would operate in the nation’s capital from February 1.
The Daily Telegraph has described the ACT as a “a mecca for Australian bikie gangs” reporting last May that gangs were “descending on Canberra because of a lack of consorting laws”. The Sydney paper reported that the three OMCGs currently operating in the ACT were the longstanding Rebels (which it said were based north of Lake Burley Griffin) and newer arrivals the Nomads (operating south of the lake) and Comancheros (who float between north and south, according to the newspaper).
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Assistant Commissioner Saunders said today the NAGS liaison officer to be provided by the Australian Federal Police would ensure there was a seamless flow of information across the nation (the ACT was the only remaining jurisdiction nationally without NAGS staff on the ground). It would build on the already strong relationships with the broader AFP and with national multi-agency taskforce Operation Morpheus.
“It will provide a dedicated capability to ensure information is coordinated and seamlessly shared in a timely way,” Assistant Commissioner Saunders said.
Asked how many bikies and gangs operated in the ACT, the Chief Police Officer noted numbers fluctuated.
“But generally speaking we have approximately 50 [gang members] active here and residing here in the ACT,” she said.
“We now have three OMCG groups actively residing here in the ACT.”
Would she, like her predecessor Rudi Lammers, like to see anti-consorting laws introduced in the Territory?
“Certainly. We’ve had ongoing conversations with the Government and we’ll continue to have those conversations,” the CPO said.
“My observations are there is some benefit to exploring anti-consorting laws, having said that, that’s not the panacea in itself.
“I think we need to look at a suite of tools to make sure that we’re being effective.”
Assistant Commissioner Saunders said she had yet to discuss with Government a range of strategies that could be employed in a policy setting.
“Once I do, when and if there is agreement, then I’ll be able to announce those,” she said.
She said ACT Policing’s own OMCG taskforce, Operation Nemesis, had been a tremendous success with some 74 OMCG members having been before ACT courts since 2014.
They’d been charged with over 224 offences, with about 67 per cent resulting in guilty pleas.
NAGS brings together the resources and expertise of Federal and state/territory agencies to cooperate and share information to identify, target, disrupt and deter gang-related crime.
Nationally, NAGS comprises 91 members from the AFP, state and territory police, the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, Australian Border Force, the Australian Tax Office and the departments of Immigration and Border Protection and Human services.
Pictured above are ACT Chief Police Officer Justine Saunders with the Territory’s Police Minister, Mick Gentleman, this afternoon. Photo: Supplied