A retired army brigadier picked by Campbell Newman to run a crackdown on biker gangs asked for new police statistics to better link bikies with crime.
A former army boss recruited by Queensland Premier Campbell Newman to oversee the crackdown on bikies was frustrated at media coverage and urgently requested new police statistics linking bikies with crime, documents show.
Retired brigadier Bill Mellor, who was last year hired on a year-long $200,000 contract, wrote an email on March 13 this year expressing frustration that news stories about criminal motorcycle gangs (CMGs) had failed to reflect unpublished Queensland Police Service intelligence.
His correspondence was sent after criminal lawyers were quoted in media reports criticising new state laws which made it illegal for three or more bikies to gather in public.
“A recurring theme in the media is a perceived lack of empirical evidence that supports the position of the QPS and other Australian law enforcement agencies that CMGs and their members are involved in organised crime, and other serious criminal activity,” Mr Mellor said in an email obtained by AAP following a right-to-information search.
The name of the email recipient was blacked out under RTI provisions.
“Initial work undertaken by my office has not been able to identify suitable Queensland-based empirical research that could be released to the community to counter these claims and clear up this misunderstanding.”
To remedy this, he requested new statistics on the proportion of bikies and their associates who had criminal records and information on the type of illegal activity.
Discussions were held with the police state intelligence branch.
“This research is urgently needed to put some balance back into the public policy debate surrounding CMGs and to counter the misconception being promoted that CMGs are just like any other club or organisation where only a few members may have some criminal history,” Mr Mellor said.
Mr Mellor’s anti-bikie “strategic monitoring team” in April produced an interim report to a taskforce charged with the “elimination of criminal motorcycle gangs from Queensland”.
“Targeted public relations strategies, including background briefing of journalists and better co-ordination of government messaging, have seen a reduction in the level of negative media articles throughout February and March 2014,” it said.
A spokesman for Mr Newman said it was appropriate for the premier’s office to request new police statistics.
“The government regularly asks for figures, statistics and research from state government agencies to be released as part of our commitment to openness and accountability,” he told AAP in a statement.