STRENGTHENING LAWS TO DISRUPT CRIMINAL GANGS

The Andrews Labor Government is giving police the powers they need to disrupt serious and organised crime in Victoria through new laws introduced into Parliament today, delivering on commitments under the Community Safety Statement 2018/19.

The Justice Legislation Amendment (Unlawful Association and Criminal Appeals) Bill 2018 will amend and clarify laws designed to prevent the formation of criminal networks, by prohibiting those convicted of serious offences from associating with others.

These laws were developed in consultation with Victoria Police, and are designed to help police prevent serious offending by outlaw motorcycle gangs, organised crime families and small numbers of violent young people.

The minimum age of a person that may be subject to a notice not to associate with a convicted offender will be reduced from 18 to 14 years, regardless of whether the person receiving the notice has a criminal conviction. This will assist police to prevent vulnerable young people becoming involved in serious and organised crime.

Officers at or above the rank of Sergeant will be able to issue notices, ensuring the powers are accessible to officers closer to the frontline of day-to-day policing. Previously only officers at the rank of Senior Sergeant or above were able to issue notices.

This Bill also contains protections for vulnerable people, including children. If the offender is a child, he or she can only be the subject of a notice if convicted of one of a limited list of serious youth offences.

Notices issued against children, Aboriginal people, or those with a cognitive, physical or mental health impairment will expire after 12 months – rather than the usual three years – and must be approved by a more senior police officer.

Under the reforms, the conviction of an offender named in an Unlawful Association Notice must not have been more than ten years ago, ensuring the scheme only applies to those recently involved with crime. Exceptions to this rule will apply for serious and sexual offences, which can always form the basis of a notice.

The Independent Broad-Based Anti-Corruption Commission will also be given a new oversight role, reviewing notices and monitoring the operation of the scheme. This includes consulting with the Commissioner for Children and Young People, and the Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People.

Quotes attributable to Attorney-General Martin Pakula

“We’re strengthening these laws to give police the powers and resources they need to disrupt serious organised crime and keep the community safe.”

“These laws include important safeguards to protect children, Aboriginal people and other vulnerable Victorians.”

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