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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 02 Hansard (Tuesday, 20 February 2018) . . Page.. 374 ..

Australian jurisdictions. Crime figures released by the ABS show that the ACT had the lowest offender rate of all jurisdictions in the nation just this month. In fact, our rate is almost half that of Victoria’s, the next best performing state, and it has decreased at a rate of four per cent on the previous year.

However, while Canberra remains a very safe city to live in, that does not mean that we are immune from criminal activity and organised crime, particularly that of criminal gangs. The ACT government is committed to tackling organised crime. We have been working with ACT Policing to ensure that we have the necessary and evidence-based tools at our disposal to effectively deal with organised crime groups to confiscate their criminal assets and to put offenders before the courts.

Last year the Crimes Legislation Amendment Bill 2016 and the Crimes (Police Powers and Firearms Offence) Bill 2017 strengthened a range of offences and police powers particularly in regard to the discharge of firearms, the creation of specific offences for drive-by shootings and the declaration of designated crime scenes. That is in addition to the $6.4 million funding for Taskforce Nemesis and the $970,000 announced as part of the budget review last week to fund four extra staff at the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, with three of those staff members to specialise in seizing criminal assets, targeting the illicit wealth that funds organised crime.

The government is also proactive in addressing potential problems before they advance, and that is what we are seeking to do in this bill by introducing anti-fortification laws. We know that fortified clubhouses and gang bases as well as other properties can serve as a hotbed of criminal activity.

Fortification can take many forms. It can come in the form of steel gates, steel-plated doors, steel bollards, CCTV equipment, barred windows, spike strips, toughened windows and other devices and objects or structures that have the effect of specifically impeding police entry and investigation. The primary purpose is to prevent scrutiny and detection by law enforcement authorities and to impede police and criminal investigations by holding off examination of the premises so that evidence can be destroyed or removed from the site or even allow suspects of criminal activity or suspicious persons to covertly escape the property.

Fortifications can also have an escalating effect whereby, when one gang fortifies their clubhouse, rival gangs feel compelled to do so as well in retaliation. This is not only intimidating for nearby residents but is difficult to address under current laws.

In March 2016 ACT police had trouble entering a criminal gang clubhouse which was fortified with heavy steel doors and they were forced to work with the owner of the building to evict the occupants through a protracted process in the Magistrates Court, as opposed to entering themselves immediately. If a gang were to own the premises, the creative solution that was required in that case would not have been possible.

Criminal gangs operating from fortified clubhouses will no longer be untouchable under this bill. Under the anti-fortification laws proposed, police will now be able to apply to the Magistrates Court for a fortification removal order. They must establish that the fortifications are specifically meant to obstruct police entry to the site and are

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