Disrupting Organised Crime: An Examination of Criminal Association Laws and their Effectiveness.

Terrence Goldsworthy, Robyn Lincoln

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Forms of "criminal association" or "anti-bikie" laws have been introduced in four Australian jurisdictions, and the recent High Court decision upholding their constitutionality will ensure that they remain part of our justice landscape. Similar kinds of “anti-gang” laws have operated in various states in the USA and in Canada for some years. Generally, the aims of these laws are to declare a specific organisation as "criminal", to impose control orders that thwart the consorting of members, and to exercise enhanced powers to confiscate unexplained wealth. There have been significant criticisms of these styles of association laws both here and internationally (Morgan et al, 2010; Ayling, 2011; Katz, 2011). Some of the negative claims are that they are ineffective and that they contravene civil and political rights. In addition, there are concerns about the secret gathering of criminal intelligence, undisclosed hearings and the operations of “public safety orders”.

The analysis presented here is twofold: an examination of the legal ramifications and an evaluation of the investigative utility of such laws. This paper examines the legislative framework (with an emphasis on the Criminal Organisations Bill 2009 in Queensland) from a national and international perspective. Drawing on this legal background the paper then provides criminological evidence about the likely effectiveness of these laws in dealing with the organised criminal activities of outlawed groups (ie an exploration of the links with money laundering, illicit drug distribution and serious violence). The paper then canvasses the potential for this legislation to provide any additional useful investigative tools for police to disrupt organised criminal networks.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Event 2nd International Serious and Organised Crime Conference (ISOC) 2013 - Brisbane, Brisbane, Australia
Duration: 29 Jul 201330 Jul 2013
Conference number: 2nd


Conference 2nd International Serious and Organised Crime Conference (ISOC) 2013
Abbreviated titleISOC
Internet address


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