Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Gang laws a cure worse than the disease?

While my blogging has dropped off research on a book concept continues apace. Criminal gangs are the focus, particularly where there is apparent sponsorship or involvement of authorities.

Because the ideas necessarily reflect concepts of conspiracy, with evidence often difficult to uncover, the research so far is aimed at gaining an understanding of how organised crime is really organised.

Some of the information I’m dealing with is strictly historical, but being compared with current organisation trends of crime gangs. Bikers are in the forefront now, to the degree that special laws are being promulgated to deal with them. One question is; why are authorities suddenly so aware of that menace?

I recently had a sort of run in with our local chapter of the Banditos. Well not close up and personal, but through associate drug dealers. With some neighbours we had approached police with evidence of drug dealing in our unit block.

The response came not from the police but from an associate returning from a club meet. The polite suggestion was that we refrain from contacting the police; that one of the people being complained about was the sister of the local biker’s sergeant at arms and we would be dealt with if we continued to make waves.

We were also told that the information was passed on by a police officer, with the suggestion that complaints to the police were not safe. On the other hand, our concern was noted and the dealers were to be moved on. Obviously business is the chief concern.

New Laws

Through all this our state government, along with others in Australia, were passing harsh new laws to deal with the biker/drug menace. Part of the reason for the apparent inconsistency is the changes occurring within the biker gang structure here, you could sum them up by asking; what bikes?

Increasingly the old gangs are becoming Nike clad, white tee-shirted SUV or big V8 drivers. The old gang structures, which had their established police connections, are going it alone; too arrogant and confident to want any protection beyond their own. Criminal gangs tend not to last too long without some sort of sanction from ‘authorities’.

But these new laws share much with the maligned anti-terrorism laws of the past decade. Not only will they fail, but police and governments will end up with more egg on their collective faces. The highly respected Director of Public Prosecutions in NSW (Nicholas Cowdery QC) says the laws represent "another giant leap backwards for human rights and the separation of powers - in short, the rule of law".

But one of his Canadian counterparts, Mr. Richmond, Quebec's deputy chief prosecutor for organized crime claims “It can take literally months to make this evidence before the court. This constant requirement that we prove the same thing over and over again is monopolizing valuable resources that could be used elsewhere in the fight against organized crime.”

I’m with Cowdrey on this, the processes of law have developed over centuries to provide fair and thorough systems. Regardless of their failings these processes are al that stands between we the people and outright tyranny.

As with terrorism criminal laws are in place to do the job, perhaps many of our current police and prosecutors are simply not up to the task. Certainly where a suggestion clearly exists of police passing information to the criminals rather than pursuing law breakers there is cause for concern.


abi said...

It must be pretty discouraging to find that reports to the police end up in the hands of the thugs.

I can understand that people want to fight back against illegal drugs and all the crime they create, but shortcuts in the law are not the way to deal with it.

Cart said...

Abi, given the research aspect I actually found it encouraging, at least as far as it supports my developing hypothesis on the nexus between crime and authority.

Of course the development of these new laws would suggest that the relationship is breaking down in places. Here that tends to be where groups like Lebanese and Pakistanis – everyone an embattled minority – reject the ‘official’ sanction.

The other issue it highlighted for me is the apparent internal discipline of sanctioned crime gangs.

I expect there have been times on the streets of Boston you would question that assertion. But to a great degree these gangs have been businesses first and foremost.

On the bright side, the overt drug dealing has been moved away from our apartment block now.

D.K. Raed said...

seems like gangs operate about same all over the world ... in bed with the local police! if the relationship continues long enough and the gang enforcement stays away from murder, they are no longer even considered a gang.

bike gangs are a different breed here ... used to be rebels without a cause ... but now many of them have morphed into doing much good charity work.

maybe the situation in oz will change when the police have higher numbers of ethnics, same as your bikers?

Cart said...

DK, the change in our bikers is worrying, we had the same as you but they are slowly being taken over by young, focused criminals. During the Victorian fires the old bikers were in evidence among the volunteers, doubtlessly including some of their drug runners. The toy runs had become common too.
At the moment our changes are coming out of Sydney, but spreading. This new lot seem to have no regard for the general public, creating havoc on streets and one episode at Sydney Airport where a gang member was very publicly murdered.
These are not the old Viet vets and later ex military people we could cope with but Middle Eastern and Pacific Island immigrants. I’m personally wary of racist generalizations, but each wave of new arrests show the dominance of ME names; the islanders are just the ‘soldiers’.
The crooked cops don’t have much chance of moderating this lot…