Friday November 23 2012
– Police have intensified their war on bikie clubs, cancelling the firearms licences of almost 20 members of clubs around Victoria.
The move follows the seizure of more than 100 licensed guns from dozens of bikies around the state in August. The owners of the guns had their licences suspended by Chief Commissioner Ken Lay at the same time.
Nine members of the Wangaratta-based Tramps motorcycle club had taken legal action against Mr Lay to force him to return their weapons and lift the suspension of the licences.
However, at a Supreme Court hearing in Wangaratta on Thursday, lawyers for Victoria Police told the Tramps Mr Lay had cancelled the licences, despite none of the club’s members having criminal convictions.
It is also understood that members of the Derelicts motorcycle club – based in Benalla – have also had their licences cancelled, and that other bikies from Melbourne-based clubs have been told informally they will also be stripped of their licences.
The decision by Mr Lay to cancel the licences is the clearest sign yet that Victoria Police has stepped up its assault on Victoria’s bikie clubs, which the police and government describe as outlaw motorcycle gangs, a designation disputed by the bikies.
It comes days after the government introduced anti-association legislation, which would allow police to apply to the Supreme Court to have an organisation designated criminal.
If the application is successful, the judge can then make control orders banning members from that group from associating or participating in gang activities, including riding together and wearing club colours and emblems. They would also make similar orders from other states enforceable in Victoria.
Individuals who breach a control order will face up to five years’ jail and organisations can be fined up to $400,000 and have assets confiscated.
Detective Superintendent Peter De Santo, from Victoria Police crime command, confirmed Mr Lay had exercised his discretion to cancel the licences.
Law Institute of Victoria president Michael Holcroft attacked the cancellation as an example of guilt by association, and said the men would have had to show they were fit and proper persons when given the licences – Dan Oakes