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Feds send national anti-gangs squad officer to Canberra

A national anti-gangs squad officer will be embedded with ACT Policing from February 1, giving the squad a presence in every Australian state and territory for the first time, the federal government has announced.

It's expected the National Anti-Gangs Squad liaison officer will bolster the work of Taskforce Nemesis, ACT Policing's anti-bikie arm, by sharing information about bikie activities from the other states and territory.

The placement has been welcomed by the territory government and ACT Policing, both of which are keen to ensure bikies do not see Canberra as a "safe haven".

At a press conference following the federal government's announcement, ACT Policing chief Justine Saunders flagged a return of controversial anti-consorting laws to the agenda in 2017.

While police say the work of Taskforce Nemesis has meant the numbers of bikies living in Canberra remains steady, there are concerns about an escalating number of violent incidents as members "patch over" to new gangs in the ACT.

Before 2014, only the Rebels had established any chapters in the ACT. Since joined by Comancheros and Nomads, tensions between the rival gangs have erupted, with shootings at Canberra homes and a a targeted arson attack at a Tuggeranong tattoo parlour.

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The number of members fluctuates over time, but police estimate about 50 bikies and three gangs are currently operating in the ACT.

Police minister Mick Gentleman said the national liaison officer would ensure the ACT had a direct line to national information about bikie activities.

"The more information that you can share across jurisdictions ... helps policing on the ground deal with these outlaw motorcycle gangs. And of course, it's the community's view that we need as much effort as we can to stop unlawful activity in the ACT."

Assistant Commissioner Saunders said the national squad member would provide support to ACT Policing's Taskforce Nemesis - which had received a $6.4 million boost in funding in August.

She noted the importance of a "seamless" flow of information, as well as a national response to crime.

"That's critically important in noting that dealing with any crime problem, particularly the [bikie gangs] that it has to be done on a national level in a collaborative way."

Assistant Commissioner Saunders said that in the taskforce's two-and-a-half years of existence since August 2016, it had put more than 74 gang members before court for 224 offences. She said 68 per cent of those matters had returned a guilty verdict.

With 131 search warrants, Nemesis officers had seized guns, weapons, cash, drugs and anabolic steroids.

But Assistant Commissioner Saunders said the taskforce's successes did not negate the need for more law enforcement measures to minimise the threat of gangs, and police would be talking with the government about increasing the "suite of tools" available.

She saw some benefits to anti-consorting laws.

"Having said that, that's not a panacea in itself. I think we need to look at a suite of tools to make sure that what we're doing is effective."