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Police Minister Paul Papalia has a simple message for career criminals: “Either get out of the gang or get out of WA.”
The minister’s warning on Thursday came as he announced new moves to prevent the state’s worst offenders from going anywhere near a firearm, let alone carrying one.
WA Police officers with firearms seized under Firearm Prohibition Orders (left) and Police Minister Paul Papalia.
Papalia said Firearm Prohibition Orders had been slapped on 20 organised crime figures recently in a bid to dismantle outlaw motorcycle gangs. Domestic violence offenders were also targeted.
“We have disarmed some of the most dangerous organised crime figures in WA, making the streets safer for our community,” he said.
“We have disarmed some of the very worst domestic violence offenders in our state, reducing the unacceptable threat these offenders pose in the home.”
Individuals served with FPOs can no longer possess a firearm or be in the presence of a firearm, including visiting an address where a firearm is present.
An individual served with an FPO, and anyone in their presence, can be searched by police 24 hours a day, seven days a week, without a warrant.
The laws sailed through parliament last year, but this is the first time they have used on WA’s underworld.
“It has an impact on who they may associate with,” Papalia said.
“If you’re travelling in a vehicle with those people, they can be subject to a search, their house can be subject to a search.
“If you’re with them, it’s going to be pretty uncomfortable.”
In March this year, Premier Mark McGowan and the police minister announced an overhaul of the state’s gun ownership laws after it was revealed the number of licensed firearms in the state had soared by 60 per cent.
Two months ago, it was also announced police would soon have powers to instantly ban thugs from Perth party precincts for five years.
But Papalia said he didn’t care if he copped criticism for his tough approach.
“I don’t apologise for being heavy-handed with outlaw motorcycle members,” he told Radio 6PR.
“They inflict pain and misery, and it’s not going to be tolerated.
“This will make the streets safer and it will protect our police.”
In August this year, Perth bikie Troy Mercanti threatened to challenge the validity of a police order banning him from associating with dozens of other gang members, but Papalia said the threat had gone nowhere.
“I think there have been some suggestion they would challenge, but I don’t think anything has come of that,” he said.
“We are comfortable that these powers are just and legal, and they’ll be effective.”
The maximum penalty for breaching an FPO is 14 years prison and a $75,000 fine.
During the first round of FPOs issued, police seized 12 firearms. A further five firearms were surrendered.
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