Introduction

Motorcycle Clubs (MCs) can be distinguished into regular clubs, which is
comprised mainly by motorcycle enthusiasts that are devoted to Harley Davidson
motorcycles, and into deviant, which the members of the club are radicals and
they are associated with offending behavior and delinquency, so-called 1%
(henceforth the term OMCGs, Outlaw Motorcycle Club Gangs). Within this essay,
their subculture way of life, their aims and ideals will be analysed
thoroughly, by extracting data from journal articles and state reports.
Moreover, it will be discussed what criminological theory can explain OMCGs
behavior and what type of policy do state agencies apply in order to tackle
them by critically analysing them. This paper will investigate the subculture
of their life, how Media present them and the state policies that are applied
to them in 3 different countries, USA, Australia and Netherlands. It is an
under-researched subject because OMCGs are considered extremely dangerous,
isolated and secretive motorcycle clubs.

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Main Body

MCs has structured a form of groups that may divide into conventi?nal,
American Motorcycle Association (A.M.A) who seek freedom and the camaraderie(brotherhood)
and their shared desire for riding Motorcycles Harley Davidson, and to
“one percenters” who are not consider homogeneous groups but as
radicals whose activities tend to be illegal and deeply offending behaviour,
who happens to ride motorcycles (Quinn, 2001), (Barker 2011). One Percenters
are a global phenomenon with rigidly organised chapters throughout the world
(MacDonald, 2007). They self-proclaim that they are the 1% of the AMA that is
against society and its mainstream rules and it is worth to note that they wear
1% badges to their coat.

 (source: John Mccutcheon, 2013)

These bikers’ ideologies may coexist and form a
friendly harmony within the same club, as it stated by Quinn (2001). The
representatives of the clubs deny every claim that MCs can be criminal
syndicates or gangs Barker (2011). However, they admit that may some members be
involved in delinquency, although the club always stays clear out of it,
according to Barker (2011). Historically, the AMA’s social status and their
dress code even their daily activities differ from One Percenters (Barker
2009). Barker (2009) outlines that from soci?logical view, deviant clubs (One
percenter) includes associations that AMA has not accepted them as clubs.
Although, Since MCs were formed back at 1940’s, the deviant clubs represent a
small minority of the AMA. However, the deviant clubs are the ones that receive
and obtain attention and notoriety from the media and society, as it is
highlighted by Barker (2009).

  One of the
most dominant subcultures themes of biker gangs are the frequent, internecine
wars with each other since the 1960s, in the USA. It is considered a ubiquitous
influence on their lifestyle (Quinn & Forsyth, 2011). Quinn (2001)
demonstrates that interclub conflicts structured the subculture’s evolution and
is considered a key factor in forming the biker’s gangs’ frame of mind and
psychology of the club, respectively. Nevertheless, in Australia, OMCGs have
developed in a singular direction (Vergani & Collins, 2014). According to
them, Australian OMCGs’ dominance shaped politics and tactics in partnership
with other criminal groups such as Asian and Middle Eastern Criminal
Syndicates. In Comparison with Denmark, where the OMCGs were recognised for their
ruthlessness and brutality by using military weapons warfare (Grade r?cket
launchers) during the “Great Nordic Biker War” that took place in
Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden that was caused by drug-trade criminal
distribution, as it is illustrated by Vergani and Collins (2014) on case study.

The Big Four One Percenter motorcycle clubs based in
the USA, which are the Hell’s Angels the largest Outlaw Motorcycle Gang that
has expanded rapidly by having 200 chapters and 3000 members in 27 different
countries (Williams, 2010). On the other hand, Bandidos, Outlaws and Pagans
have spread worldwide by establishing chapters and members worldwide, but in
smaller figures, as it is suggested by Barker (2009). Regarding their official
leaders/officers, Barker (2011) exemplifies that various official leaders of
Hells Angels MC have been convicted, in the USA, while at the same time,
numerous official presidents of Bandidos and Outlaw MCs have been incarcerated
because of drug-trade charges.

On the contrary, in Queensland of Australia, the
government announced “anti-bikers” laws that were addressed
specifically to OMCGs because of the unrecognised riches that they possessed,
in 2013. A case study conducted by Goldworthy and McGillivray (2016),
investigated how effective these policies were against the members of OMCGs, by
obtaining data from numerous government officials. Surprisingly, the results
showed that from all the formulated criminal activities that occurred, the
OMCGs were responsible only for 1% of the crimes.

 

Table
1

(Source: Goldworthy and McGillivray (2016)

As it is depicted in the table below, there were
106,316 of total offences addressed to murder, only 1% of OMCGs were involved
in the related charges of a total number of 3. It should be mentioned that
there were no charges for extortion and prostitution on OMCGs members.
Undoubtedly, OMCGs has an involvement with criminal offences, but they are not
dominant gangs, as frequently mentioned. The nature of organised crime has
adjusted, and it should be investigated more thoroughly since it proved how
ineffective the legislation can be. Analysing the effectiveness of these
policies, it is self-evident that OMCGs’ involvement in criminal activities is
limited. One reason could be the ineffectiveness of the new laws established to
tackle the biker gangs. The other reason could be that the members of MCs may
participate less in criminal acts. Nevertheless, the organisation of criminal
syndicates in Australia has evolved and OMCGs are a small part of it. The
legislation should be structured to confront criminal groups and not only
specific groups such as biker gangs.

The Netherlands is a country that OMCGs’ has
expanded and they have established drug trade, as it is demonstrated by
Ruiteburg (2016). In 2012, the Dutch government took actions and form new
strategies and policies to disorganise and confine biker gangs by using
departments such as Dutch National Police, Public Prosecution Service, Dutch
Tax authority along with cooperation with local governments under the
legislation of Criminal, Administrative and Civil Law (Ruiteburg, 2016). The
Authorities, certainly, applied these legislations and in 2013, prohibited a
3-day motorcycle festival (Brothers in Arms Run) to occur, organised by a
Veterans MC, according to Ruiteburg (2016). The authorities based their decision
because other outlaw clubs (Hells’ Angels) would be attracted by that and they
would disturb the public order, as Ruitenburg outlined. As it is mentioned
before, OMGCs can be defined as ambiguous due to the nature of this group. Such
as not, every member of an OMCG offends the law (Quinn, 2001).  Taking this event as an instance, it is
crucial to analyse how these policies are able to lead to more criminal acts.
To exemplify, this kind of prevention strategy could easily be able to cause
MCs organise their own illegal events in hidden places, where the police to
track down, without a permit of the state. Policies such this can create so
many uncertainties and extreme levelness of control.

Demonstrating all these points, it is
significant for the research to highlight the criminological theories that
explain OMCGs’ behaviour. Firstly, General Strain Theory of Agnew examines the
role of the anomie in a group, to specify, the motorcycle gang, which can be
seen as divergent by society, promotes less commitment and attachment to the
Rules and untrustworthy those who follow the Rules. OMCGs are a group that
decline society and the law that follows, and they have established their own
rules for structure and economic expansion by offending the law under the
shadow of their club. The rational choice theory is another theory that OMCGs
officers can be seen as individuals, who measure methods, risks, cost and
interest and make their decisions to forward the MC, by camouflaging under it
and demand from the members to obey. Moreover, Social Structure theory suggests
delinquency is a symptom of a criminal that did not have the opportunity or the
capacity to accomplish g?als
via legal means, in this case OMCGs. Last but not least, Social Control theory could
explain that OMCGs behavior can be reflected to s?ciety,
for which they are part. Internal and external situations of the OMCGs are
exposed and thus, being labelled by society and the media.

 

Conclusion

In the final stage of analysis, as it is
mentioned above, OMCGs, as a group can be linked to criminal acts, while at the
same time, some of its members do not offend the law and they just seek
camaraderie. There are various criminological theories that explain OMCGs
behaviours, as it is stated above. Regarding policies, tackling with crime
effectively does not only constitute only ‘prevention’ meaning to respond to a
criminal act and pursue and prosecute the criminal, but pre-emptive policies
should be established by states since crimes can be calculated by risk as is
proven by Ruitenburg (2014). Nonetheless, may this essay examine the cases of
OMCGs, but the broad view is about the gangs, in general, that these
pre-emptive policies can be applied to. Subsequently, the studies’ limitations
were various due to its complexity of outlaw and legal members of OMCGs,
(qualitative part), which, has affected nature of the research. Therefore, more
research is required to understand the OMCGs nature of crime. State agencies
should form new legislation and policies with rationale by calculating the risk
for the future, not only for the presence.

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