Understanding desistance from outlaw motorcycle gangs
Miss Isabella Voce1, Mr Anthony Morgan1, Dr Christopher Dowling1, Dr Timothy Cubitt1
1Australian Institute Of Criminology, Canberra, Australia
Drawing on interviews with 39 former members of outlaw motorcycle gangs (OMCGs) in Queensland, we explore the process by which members leave their club. This evidence is important in helping to inform efforts to promote and facilitate desistence from clubs. The research finds that OMCG membership is often a temporary and fluid phase, with disengagement resulting from a range of internal and external factors. While peaceful exits were reported, this desistance process can be fraught with violence and victimisation. There is variation in the extent to which desistence is accompanied by changes in former members’ behaviour, identity and post-exit recognition by others. The findings underscore the need for external law enforcement pressure to be accompanied by strategies to help members reduce their attachment to the club and provide safe ways for members to leave.
Isabella Voce is a Senior Research Analyst with the AIC’s Serious and Organised Crime Research Lab. Isabella has conducted several research projects into Australian outlaw motorcycle gang (OMCG) members, including the prevalence of violent, profit-motivated and organised crime offending among current members, a retrospective analysis of OMCG offending careers during adolescence and early adulthood, and qualitative analyses of the reasons that men join OMCGs, the effects of OMCG membership and the support needs of former members.