Overview of Serious and Organised Crime Bill 2016

VLAD LawsOn 13 September 2016, the Attorney General, Ms D’Ath presented the Serious and Organised Crime Bill to the Queensland Parliament.  The Bill is set to amend and/or replace the 2013 raft of legislation commonly known as VLAD.  The legislation is said to be based on the recommendations of the three (3) reviews commissioned by the Government into organised crime:

  1. The Queensland Organised Crime Commission or Inquiry 2015; Inquiry ReportReport
  2. The Taskforce on Organised Crime Legislation; Taskforce Report
  3. The Statutory Review of the Criminal Organisation Act 2009. Statutory Review

The Government is at pains to highlight that the Serious and Organised Crime Bill is not aimed solely at so called outlaw motorcycle gangs, but all serious criminal activity and organised crime.  In particular the new legislation is said to include all forms of organised crime including child exploitation, drug trafficking and financial crimes.

Organised Crime Bill Key Elements

The key elements of the new Bill are:

  1. A new consorting offence;
  2. Public safety protection orders consisting of Public Safety Orders, Restricted Premises Orders and Fortification Removal Orders;
  3. Banning of “colours” to all public places;
  4. New Offences and Increased penalties for child exploitation material offences, sophisticated financial crimes and drug trafficking;
  5. New powers for police to investigate child exploitation and financial crimes.
  6. Reduce the mandatory imprisonment period.
  7. Delete the circumstance of aggravation of being an office bearer

Consorting Offence

  • The new consorting offence is to be substantially based on the New South Wales Legislation.
  • It is the be an offence under the Queensland Criminal Code.
  • It will be an offence for a person to consort with two convicted offenders on two or more occasions.
  • A convicted offender must be a person convicted of an offence that is punishable by at least a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment or another prescribed offence associated with organised crime.
  • A person can not be convicted of the new consorting offence, before they have received an official written warning from a police officer.
  • The offence does not apply to a person under the age of 18 years.
  • There is a defence to the charge that allows for participation in Civic Life.

Public Safety Protection Orders

The scheme contains three (3) new orders:

  1. restricted premises order;
  2. public safety order; and
  3. fortification removal order.

It will be an indictable offence under the Queensland Criminal Code.

1. Restricted Premises Order

  • The order will enable a premises to be declared by the Magistrates Court to be restricted if a police officer has a reasonable suspicion that certain unlawful or disorderly conduct is occurring there.
  • The declaration will enable police to enter and search the premises without warrant at any time.
  • The declaration will enable the police to seize property including furniture, entertainment systems, pool tables, stripper poles and the like.
  • The Commissioner of Police may forfeit any property that is lawfully seized to the State.
  • The OMCG clubhouses that were closed under the 2013 VLAD laws will be automatically declared to be restricted premises that are unable to reopen.

2. Public Safety Order

  • The Order will enable a commissioned police officer or the Magistrates Court to order that a person, or group of persons is prohibited from entering or attending an event or place if their presence is a serious risk to public safety.
  • Police are able to make an Order for seven (7) days
  • Magistrates are able to make an Order for more than seven (7) days.

3. Fortification Removal Order

  • The Order enables the Police to apply to the Magistrates Court to seek an order directing the removal or modification of fortifications that are excessive for the lawful use of a property.
  • If the Order is not complied with, police can enter the property and use any force or equipment necessary to remove or modify the fortifications.
  • Police are able to issue stop and desist notices if they observe excessive fortifications being built on a property.
  • Police have 14 days from the issuing of the cease and desist notice to make an application to the court for a fortification removal order.

Wearing or Carrying Prohibited Items

  • The new Prohibited Items Offence is to be inserted into the Summary Offences Act.
  • The offence criminalises the wearing or carrying of prohibited items in a way that they can be seen in any public place.
  • The definition makes it clear that a public place includes in or on a vehicle in a public place.
  • The offence effectively extends the prohibition on wearing these items that already exists in relation to licence venues.

Criminal Organisation Definitions

  • The new legislation carries a uniform definition of Criminal Organisation and Participant in all legislation.
  • Participant is set to be defined as an individual who is actively involved in a criminal organisation or who identify and promote themselves as being involved in a criminal organisation.

Organised Crime Sentences

  • Those convicted of the circumstance of aggravation will continue to face mandatory sentences that can only be mitigated reduced upon co-operation with the authorities.
  • The fixed mandatory component of the sentence is limited to seven (7) years imprisonment or the equivalent of the maximum penalty for the offencem whichever is lesser.
  • No harsher treatment for Office Bearers
  • The mandatory component is to be wholly served in a correctional facility without any eligibility for parole.
  • Jailed bikies treated the same as everyone els.

Control Order

  • Upon conviction the Court will also be required to make an Organised Crime Control Order.
  • The Organised Crime Control Order will be a mandatory consequence of conviction of the new serious organised crime circumstance of aggravation.
  • The orders will be limited to two (2) years in duration.
  • Conditions will include limiting the person from:
    • attending certain places;
    • place restrictions on their use of electronic devices
    • restrict where they may work
    • restrict who they may have contact with.
  • The Organised Crime Control Order will be a discretionary in three (3) circumstances:
    1. When sentencing a person for an indictable offence, if the court is satisfied on the balance of probabilities that the offender was a participant in a criminal organisation at the time.
    2. When sentencing a person for the consorting offence the court may make a limited control order which can only include place restrictions and conditions that prohibit who the person may have contact with.
    3. When sentencing a person for a contravention of a control order the court may extend the length or conditions of the existing control order.

Transitional Provisions.

  • The Bill provides for transitional arrangements for any individuals that have pleaded guilty and who have been sentenced under the old VLAD Act.

Amendment to Drugs Misuse Act

  • The maximum penalty of 25 years is to apply to all drugs, regardless of whether the drug is heroin, steroids or cannabis.
  • The current mandatory minimum 80 per cent non parole period, which applies to trafficking, will be removed and the offence will be restored to the Serious Violent Offence regime under the Penalties and Sentences Act.

Boiler Room Fraud

  • Increase the maximum penalties for existing aggravated offences of fraud from 12 to 14 years imprisonment
  • New circumstance of aggravation for the offence of fraud carrying a maximum penalty of 20 years imprisonment, where the property or yield to the offender of the fraud is $100,000.00 or more.
  • New circumstance of aggravation for the offence of fraud carrying a maximum penalty of 20 years imprisonment, where the offender participates in carrying on the business of committing fraud.
  • Increase in the maximum penalties for the offence of obtaining or dealing with identification information from three (3)  to five (5) years.

Child Exploitation Material

  • Creates three (3) new offences in the Criminal Code that target administrators of websites connected with child exploitation material.
  1. knowingly administer websites used to distribute child exploitation material.
  2. knowingly encourage the use of, promote or advertise websites used to distribute child exploitation material material
  3. distribute information about how to avoid detection of, or prosecution for, an offence involving child exploitation material.
  • Each new offence will carry a maximum penalty of 14 years imprisonment.
  • increase the maximum penalties for the offence of involving a child in making child exploitation material from 14 to 20 years imprisonment.
  • increase the maximum penalties for the offence of making child exploitation material from 14 to 20 years imprisonment.

Serious and Organised Crime Legislation Amendment Bill

For more detail the Serious and Organised Crime Legislation Amendment Bill can be viewed here: Draft Legislation

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