Police and venues roll the Rebels
POLICE say the High Court decision supporting the legitimacy of the State Government's consorting laws has shielded the Coffs Coast from being overrun by Rebels Outlaw Motorcycle Gang members.
Local officers and the gang squad's Strike Force Raptor have worked with business groups in a community effort to discourage the Rebels from bringing its national run to Coffs Harbour next weekend as a 'sanctioned event.'
Police say if some of the Rebels still intend on travelling to the Coffs Coast, they will be met by additional resources at hand and officers will be armed with the consorting legislation and ready to act.
Members of the Rebels club, who each year stage the country's largest bikie congregation, say they have had no option, but to cancel due to 'underhanded tactics' by police.
They claim Coffs Harbour is the big loser 'missing out on a huge economic spin-off', but Coffs Clarence Crime Manager Detective Inspector Darren Jameson certainly doesn't see it that way.
Inspt. Jameson says the short-lived economic gain is not worth the risk of violence and crime and that an increased entourage of police will still be posted in the Coffs Clarence over the weekend.
"These outlaw motorcycle gangs exist for no other reason but to strike fear and to intimidate the community," Det. Inspt. Jameson said.
"They were focussed on a national run that could have brought 1000 OMCG members to Coffs Harbour with the potential to cause havoc to the local community.
"We countered this by bringing in the community.
Coffs Harbour Liquor Accord president, John Rafferty said the risk to licensed premises far outweighed the short term dollar return.
"We didn't want the hassle of people walking through our premises causing intimidation to some of our patrons and also having the police coming through in great numbers, it's better off for us not to have them in our venues," Mr Rafferty said.
"With some of those gangs they take over the premises. They infiltrate in small numbers and they pool together to try and get a room to themselves and actually make it uncomfortable for other patrons.
"The economic loss is only short term, you have got to look at the long-term damage you can do to your business.
"We trade 52 weeks of the year not just for one weekend, the amount of money received in one weekend is not enough to counter the larger economic loss.
Mr Rafferty said licensed premises can also be slapped with 72-hour shutdown orders by police if they accommodate OMCG members.
He said the industry has regulations in place where OMCG members wearing colours or patches or displaying club tattoos are immediately refused entry to licensed venues.