Queensland police are in jeopardy of losing the support and goodwill of motorcycle riders over pressure to enact new powers under the so-called “world’s toughest anti-bikie laws”.
Under the laws, innocent recreational riders have been harassed by police and mistakenly intercepted.
While tabling in Parliament an anti-bikie laws petition started on this website, Shadow Minister for Police Bill Byrne said he feared police would lose the respect of riders which would make their job more difficult.
“Without significant community support, the police are unable to do their jobs effectively,” he told Parliament.
“Police rely on snippets of information provided by the public to compile intelligence profiles which may ultimately lead to the arrests of organised crime figures. Good policing needs majority community support and good will.
“If members of the public lose faith with the government, they will be less likely to provide the assistance that police require to effectively combat organised crime. The situation will degenerate further into a them-and-us scenario, at times created for no good reason.
“I fear the pressure from this government for members of the Queensland Police Service to get results has led to the wasteful and, frankly, unhelpful targeting of legitimate and lawful motorbike riders. “It would be a great shame if legitimate motorcycling enthusiasts lost faith and decided not to pass on vital pieces of information to Crime Stoppers or the police.
“So far, the new laws have seen over 10,950 people sign a petition against the discriminatory targeting of lawful motorcycle riders,” he said, referring to the petition started on this site.
“That was generated in just over two weeks following the passing of the first tranche of the VLAD legislation. The petition was presented to me when it contained around 10,000 signatures.”
He pointed out that the Police Minister and senior police met with representatives of recreational motorcycle groups last month to “broker some sort of peace deal” and prevent police harassment.
Police Commissioner Ian Stewart suggested groups register rides of 12 or more.
A poll on this website has rejected registering rides by an overwhelming majority of 93% (615 respondents).
Meanwhile, examples of harassment have continued to flood in from readers, a fact acknowledged by the Shadow Police Minister despite the fact that the government has spent $800,000 to tell riders they would not be targeted by the new VLAD laws.
“I note reports suggesting the police commissioner has indicated that inexperienced police officers were targeting the wrong people and that it was a difficult task to identify outlaw motorcycle gang members without their colours,” he told Parliament.
“If that is the case, the minister needs to beef up the intelligence and training functions to better combat organised crime.”
He then referred to several articles about harassment published first on this website: “Most members of this parliament would have been contacted by legitimate motorcyclists about things such as the raid on the Vietnam Veterans clubhouse, where Vietnam veterans were targeted; the targeting of funeral processions; charity bike riders being refused service at a pub; female bike riders on sports bikes being asked to remove jackets to expose any gang tattoos; firefighters being searched by the police because they look like bikies; and an elderly female bike rider being targeted. “We know that recreational riders have left their bikes in the garages. I warned the government about the dramatic effect that this sort of crackdown will have on some small business.
“The turnover at some cafes is down by 30%, which they attribute to the VLAD laws.
“I suggest the government takes note of the petition and takes a moment to appreciate the situation, without dismissing it out of hand.”