Members of outlaw motorcycle gangs in Western Australia have been advised to hide face tattoos under make-up and plasters, as the state rolls out harsh laws banning people from showing off “prohibited” patches and insignias.
The government will this week introduce into parliament what it calls the Criminal Law (Unlawful Consorting and Prohibited Insignia) Bill 2021. The legislation, according to the press release, pledges to “disrupt and restrict the capacity of those involved in serious and organised crime to plan, support or encourage the carrying out of criminal activity,” namely by banning bikers from associating with one another in public and from showing off their club patches – whether they be in the form of patched vests, flags or tattoos.
“These laws represent the toughest and most comprehensive reforms to fight organised crime of all Australian States and Territories. Forty-six organisations, including outlaw motorcycle gangs from right across Australia … have been captured and explicitly named in the legislation as part of the new prohibited insignia offence,” said state Attorney General John Quigley. “These organisations and their patches are designed to show affiliation with criminality and intimidate others, including law-abiding citizens in our community. This will cease once these laws are in place.”
Those caught in violation of the new “prohibited insignia offence” will face a 12-month jail term and fines of up to $12,000 AUD ($8,864 USD). Acting Police Commissioner Col Blanch further elaborated on Wednesday that even markings as conspicuous as face tattoos would need to be concealed in order for offenders to avoid criminal charges.
“That will be illegal,” Blanch told WA radio station 6PR, in reference to a well-known and heavily tattooed member of the Australian Hell’s Angels who has club-affiliated initials and insignias inked on his nose and face. “He must cover up anything that … references the club. Whether it’s on his face, or whether it’s on his publicly displayed arms, or whether it’s on anything: his motorcycle or flag or vest.”
In terms of how someone with such face tattoos might be expected to conceal them, Blanch suggested that they “start with things like band-aids or make-up, or have it removed.”
“Or alternatively,” he added, “people can have the option not to live in Western Australia if this law passes.”
This, according to experts, is part of the plan.
Mark Lauchs, an associate professor at Queensland University of Technology and an expert in outlaw motorcycle gangs, told VICE World News that the new legislation was “designed to get the worst bikies to move elsewhere.”