Victoria Police to get tough new search powers, criminals to face long prison terms

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POLICE would get unprecedented search powers and criminals would face long prison terms under a radical State Government plan to smash the scourge of gun crime.

There has long been alarm at the availability of guns in Melbourne, and their use: there were more than 30 shootings during the gangland wars.

Gangs have also carried out regular drive-by shootings hits in the northern suburbs.

And organised crime figures linked to tattoo parlours have been involved in a spate of non-fatal shootings in recent months.

Now, the Victorian Government is working on powers allowing police to put people of concern on Firearms Prohibition Orders, banning them from possessing guns.

Police could search anyone on an order without a warrant, and prison terms of up to 14 years could be imposed for breaches of an FPO.

Victoria Police is also drawing up a list of organised crime figures who would be the first targets of a tough new anti-association law.

Former bikie boss Toby Mitchell — expected to get out of prison within weeks over drug offences — could be among initial targets. Mitchell, shot six times in two incidents and charged over weapons including a stun gun, brazenly posts social media pictures of himself with other criminals.


Toby Mitchell is expected to get out of prison within weeks. Picture: Nicole Garmston

FPOs have been hailed as a key weapon against organised crime in Sydney. Their use has soared since their 2013 introduction, and the rate of shootings has reportedly diminished to its lowest in two decades.

Police have said the FPO search powers were useful in heading off a revenge plot after a gangland killing.

People who were the subject of FPOs were also raided over a separate plot to shoot up a police station.

New South Wales investigators used the search powers 1343 times in 22 months after their introduction.

The new anti-association laws will focus on senior outlaw motorcycle gang figures and major drug traffickers.


2012: NSW Police Assistant Commissioner Frank Minnelli talks about his approach to Sydney’s gun crime problem

“Police are assessing a number of individuals including outlaw motorcycle gang members in regards to the application of these notices,” a government spokesman said.

Police have for some years feared Victoria becoming a “Switzerland” for bikies fleeing tougher laws in other states. They have believed anti-association laws are required to bring the state into line with other jurisdictions.

Shadow attorney-general John Pesutto said anti-consorting laws were not being used to the extent required.

“Victorians are rightly outraged when they see high-profile offenders free to swan around with other criminals like celebrities,” he said.

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