Correctional Services figures show more than half of SA’s bikies behind bars as crackdown bites

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(video)--THE tide has turned in the war on bikies, with more than 60 per cent of South Australia’s outlaw gang members now behind bars.

A combination of unrelenting police pressure and new anti-gang laws has put 156 members in jail, an increase of 66 from five years ago.

Correctional Services figures released for the first time reveal that as of July 1 this year, 62 per cent of the 251 patched gang members in South Australia are behind bars.

These 156 gang members are serving sentences ranging from a few months for minor offences such as assault, while others are serving significant sentences of up to 15 years for serious drug trafficking and organised crime matters.

One is serving a sentence for manslaughter of a drug dealer.

They include 25 members of the Mongols, compared with just seven members on July 1, 2012 — a 257 per cent increase.

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Police believe there are now fewer than a dozen members in the community.

Recent police operations have also smashed the Nomads in SA. Eight members are now in prison — the entire South Australian contingent.

The number of Hells Angels members in custody has more than doubled from 13 in 2012 to 31 members in jail this year — a 138 per cent increase.

Police Minister Peter Malinauskas said he made “no apology’’ for the fact SA’s anti-gang laws were the most stringent in the nation.

“SAPOL has made great progress in disabling gangs and reducing the damage they cause to the community,’’ he said. “This has included keeping drugs off the streets, and seizing firearms to prevent violent crimes.’’ While police activity has been intense, legislative tools such as the Serious and Organised Crime Act that came into effect in 2015 have had a significant impact.

It resulted in 10 bikie gangs being declared criminal organisations, with a string of measures — such as anti-association for gang members — flowing from it.

Since the legislation was introduced, gang membership has dropped considerably. In August 2015 there were 306 members, in March last year there were 275 and there are now around 250 members spread across a dozen gangs.

Police believe the largest benefit has been the increase in public safety through the elimination of patched gang members in public places, considerably reducing violence and confrontation between rival members.

High-profile bikies now serving lengthy prison sentences include Nomads president Honar Pishdari, who was convicted this year of participating in a criminal organisation, aggravated kidnapping and blackmail, and Corey Dettmann and Mostyn Neimann, convicted of the brutal bashing of then fellow Finks member Charlie Bonnici in 2013.

Crime Gangs operations Inspector Scott Fitzgerald said the violent confrontations and incidents that were relatively common five years ago were “no longer prevalent”. “People with an affiliation with gangs and that lifestyle have shown a propensity for extreme violence,’’ he said.

He said policing gang members was “a constant’’ despite the significant number who were now incarcerated.

“Like all organised crime, they adapt and as they change, we need to constantly adapt to meet that challenge,’’ he said.

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The surging number of gang members in prison has resulted in carefully managed regimes and measures to both prevent clashes and ensure their activities are not maintained while in custody.

While there have been some violent incidents, targeted placement of key individuals and ensuring rival gang members are not housed in proximity to one another had minimised incidents.

Once sentenced, individual gang members are assessed to ascertain their security rating and then housed in an appropriate facility.

Depending on the severity of the offence they have been convicted of, the prisoner may also be managed by the Serious Offender Committee and also classified as a Protective Security Prisoner — subject to an extremely tight management and observation regimen during their sentence.

While in custody activities are closely monitored to prevent clashes and prevent recruitment of young criminals.

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News Article written by: 
Nigel Hunt,
Source of News article: 
adelaidenow.com.au




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