Steps to combat outlaw motorcycle gangs remain necessary
Problems with outlaw motorcycle gangs continue to give as much cause for concern as ever. According to Minister Blok of Security and Justice, it is therefore desirable that local administrators, police, the Tax and Customs Administration, the Public Prosecution Service and the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee work together as a single authority, taking concerted and resolute action to combat outlaw motorcycle gangs (OMGs). The annual Progress Report on Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs shows that in 2016, police once again dealt with an increased number of motorcycle gang members. The report illustrates the necessity of a long-term, joint effort to tackle these OMGs.
This is the crux of the letter that Minister Blok submitted to the House of Representatives today in response to the 2016 Progress Report on OMGs. The cabinet has been paying particular attention to the problem of motorcycle gangs since 2012. The report reveals that the OMGs are subject to changes in membership, that violence occurs between gang members and that the total size of these gangs has yet to decrease. In 2016, motorcycle-gang-related incidents included shootings between members occurring at cafés, threats made against administrators, vehicles being set ablaze and other crimes. To date, the effects of the government’s joint action are becoming increasingly visible and considerable results can be reported.
In 2016, over 400 motorcycle gang members were suspects in connection with over 680 offences. This means that more than 20% – in other words, one in five OMG members known to police – was suspected of an offence in that year. The majority of these cases involved drugs, weapons and violence. Of the aforementioned 680 offences, 572 were turned over to the Public Prosecution Service by police, or dismissed in some other way. A number of the remaining offences are still pending and the Public Prosecution Service will decide how to proceed on these cases. These figures confirm the suspicion that the members, both in varying combinations of individuals and as a group, are engaged in a wide range of criminal activities.
An inventory of investigations into major and organised criminal behaviour committed by motorcycle gangs (and/or their members) in 2016 shows 48 initiated and 44 completed investigations in that year. Furthermore, there were 98 ongoing investigations of OMGs still in progress in 2016, as well as 17 cases involving OMG members. For the most part, the initiated and completed investigations relate to violent crimes/crimes resulting in death, synthetic drugs, cannabis, cocaine, weapons and explosives and money laundering.
Motorcycle gangs are being tackled not only in the criminal justice system but on other fronts as well. The police, Public Prosecution Service, municipalities, the Tax and Customs Administration and the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee are now acting in concert within the Regional and National Centre of Information and Expertise (RIEC/LIEC). In this way, local administrators are able to apply a variety of measures to combat OMGs. A decrease in the number of clubhouses has been observed, for instance. Many mayors take a dim view of these clubhouses. The same can be said of events and so-called ‘ride-outs’ once they become a threat to public order and safety.
According to Minister Blok, the Progress Report shows that dealing with motorcycle gangs will require efforts over the long term. In addition, steps will be taken to establish a ban on OMGs. The Public Prosecution Service and the police are investigating motorcycle gangs in order to prosecute them for their criminal offences and to have them banned. In 2016, the Public Prosecution Service filed for a civil law injunction against an OMG. Recently, Minister Blok also announced he was exploring possibilities for more rapid action by means of an administrative ban.