Outlaw Bikers and Patched Street Gangs: The Nexus Between Violence and Shadow Economy

Author: Bradley, C
Published in National Security Journal, 15 May 2020

court documents involving the Finks MC in Queensland Australia,72 while a second article by Lauchs and Staines applied a quantitative analysis of data in Queensland of the criminal records of outlaw bikers who participate in serious criminal behaviour.73 In their conclusions, it became clear that triangulating media reports, court records and the Queensland government’s documents attempts to classify Outlaw bikers as criminal organisations was insightful. This demonstrates that such groups, while falling within the conservative spectrum of criminal behaviour, fail to occupy the more radical spectrum of organised criminal offending. Such articles provide models of analysis that, given the availability of data, can be applied to patched gangs in Aotearoa New Zealand and their involvement in crime.

Future Trends: Gangs and crime

At the time of writing, Aotearoa New Zealand is going through the global uncertainty with serious economic implications presented with the COVID19 virus. Such a situation has moved the media and political focus away from discussion of outlaw bikers and patched street gangs. But these groups will not be going away and with this comes advantages and disadvantages. In a recent article by Jarrod Gilbert and Ben Elley, they point out that the rise of on-line Alt-Right groups are not coming out of the traditionally lower middle class, but a group which have slowly seen their opportunities of economic and social success shrink.74

While they argue that the older skinhead groups came out of the mainly disaffected white working class,75 the outlaw bikers and patched street gangs have traditionally drawn its members from the working class, working poor and unemployed. With the expected economic downturn that has been predicted in the face of the COVID19 virus it will be the lower socio-economic groups who feel the full impact. It may well be that, as argued above, such strains and tension will force people to innovate to see themselves and their families long-term through the crisis that is unfolding. Despite the current lockdown, crime may rise as the supply chains become further stretched and outlaw bikers and patched street gangs extend their reach into the shadow economy of the black market. The future does not look good for the lower socio-economic groups long-term either and alternative social systems may come to the fore.

An important factor to this dynamic is the pro-social role such groups already play within their communities. Recently, the Mongrel Mob in Waikato, the Kingdom, have stated their departure from the broader Mob confederation and sought to improve the lives of their members and family and portray a pro-social agenda. This has been a two-year process with media paying attention to them after they were reportedly asked to protect Mosques in the Hamilton region after the attacks in Christchurch in 2019. Two things happened. There was the usual public scepticism and expectations demanded by the police; and an increased engagement by the Mongrel Mob Kingdom leaders with the media, police and politicians (to the extent that Louise Hutchinson was employed as the Kingdom’s public relations spokesperson).