Organised motorcycle gangs in the United Kingdom. Myth and reality – harmless sub-culture or organised crime groups?

Research Institution / Organisation

London Metropolitan University

In Collaboration With

Kent Police

Principal Researcher

Philip Crane

Level of Research


Project Start Date

September 2014

Research Context

​​​Are they ‘just different’ or are they organised crime groups (OCG’s)? Do organised motorcycle gangs (OMG’s) feature in the UK governments attempts to identify and tackle organised crime? If they do not, based on the evidence, should they? Both the Outlaws MC (AOA) and the Hells Angels MC (HAMC) will contend that they are nothing more than just ordinary motorcycle clubs with ‘bad apples’ who have become involved with criminality. 

This research project will examine Organised M​otorcycle Gangs in the United Kingdom (UK), the level of threat they pose and the correct and appropriate response by law enforcement.

Research Methodology

​The methodology used will be a mixture of quantitative and qualitative techniques: academic papers; published sources, ranging from auto-biographies to journalistic accounts; government reports and statistics; law enforcement publications; interviews with both law enforcement personnel, members and ex-members of OMG’s and a comparative analysis of reported crime connected to Organised Motorcycle Gangs in the UK and Europe. All participants in the project are or will be made aware of the researcher’s police service.  The researcher is fully aware of the question of objectivity and feels that his training and reading over the last 2/3 years in research methodology will off-set any questions of bias and undue occupational cultural influence. The researcher’s occupational training in investigation may offer a degree of assistance to the research when recording and looking at the facts dispassionately, taking them on their merits and drawing only evidenced conclusions. Qualitative Interviews – 10 – 15 interviews with serving police officers in Europe and the UK charged with policing OMG’s. A number of former gang members have also been identified who have agreed to participate in the research. Confidentiality will be offered to all interviewees and participants from the start, and anonymity will be assured at all times . Recording of interviews will be undertaken only with the permission of the participants and all participants will be able to withdraw from the research at any time. Whilst ex-members would not be directly involved in OMG business they would still be a part of the biker sub-culture and able to comment on trends, themes and historical development. Quantitative Comparative content analysis of law enforcement records, court records, Europol analytical documents. For official documentation written permission will be obtained from the head of the relevant Europol work-file or law enforcement legal disclosure team prior to any use or publication. All legal obligations will be met with host countries and the UK when dealing with official data. No data will be used if not sanctioned by the owning authority within the rules and regulations of that authority.


Interim reports and publications

Chapter published in  ‘Understanding the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs. International Perspectives.’ Edited by Andy Bain, Mark Fauchs.

Date due for completion

November 2017
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