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Combating organised crime

5 July 2016

Legislation recently enacted by the South Australian Government represents the most significant attack on serious and organised crime in the State’s history.

Experience overseas indicates that traditional criminal justice systems struggle to deal with the threat posed by organised crime suspects. A new, strategic approach has guided the formulation of the new laws.

Attorney General John Rau says “SA Police have now been given significant new powers to combat the behaviour of these thugs, but the government will not be complacent and will continue to explore possible new anti-crime measures in close consultation with Police.”

What this means for criminal organisations

Criminal organisations, such as bikie gangs, now face new barriers and stiffer penalties.

Constitutional problems identified by the High Court have been addressed, with the new legislation working in lock-step with other government measures such as proposed new firearms laws.

The law has introduced new controls and offences to stifle the ability of organised crime gangs to carry out their activities.

Members of organised crime gangs now face:

  • up to 15 years’ jail for participating in a criminal organisation
  • up to 20 years’ jail for engaging in common crimes such as assault or threatening to damage or destroy property 
  • increased jail terms for engaging in serious drug offences, blackmail and abuse of public office.

Under the new law, anyone wearing the insignia of a crime gang – even a tattoo – is assumed to be a member of that gang.

It will be an offence to habitually consort with people who have committed, or are reasonably suspected to have committed, a serious and organised crime offence. New restriction orders will prohibit a person from visiting a specified place, either absolutely or at specified times.

There will be a presumption against bail for those charged with a serious and organised crime offence, if bail might cause a witness to reasonably fear for his or her safety. There will also be mandatory conditions for bail if granted to a serious and organised crime suspect, including home detention with electronic monitoring and possible restrictions on their use of communications devices

The legislation also provides a new measure to break the criminal code of silence, including giving a trial judge the discretion to hear a case by judge alone if the judge believes the jury is being intimidated or threatened.