More than half of people connected to biker gangs in Denmark are on benefits, according to new figures.
The tax service Skat has revealed that 593 of the 1,170 citizens with known affiliations to either the Hell’s Angels or the Bandidos have raked in DKK 29.6 (EUR 3.9 million) in sick and disability pay and cash benefits in just the first six months of this year.
Speaking to tabloid BT, Vagn Pdersen from Skat’s gang unit said he was not surprised by the figures. “In our experience, we can see when we are out investigating them that bikers aren’t interested in getting jobs,” he said. “It’s generally the kind of macho culture where they like to show off, but at the same time they’re not afraid to ask for public help. So, if we can see that they have other valuables, like cars, motorcycles or big gold chains, then these welfare benefits are one of the places where, with the help of the councils, we can stop the money from flowing,” Pedersen added.
The agency, which is working with the majority of Denmark’s councils in a bid to unearth the extent of welfare fraud across the country, estimates that criminal gangs have claimed more than DKK 47.6 million (EUR 6.4 million) in benefits so far this year.
“If you take their age and sex into account, there is no doubt that they are overrepresented [on the welfare lists] in comparison with the general population,” sociologist and Justice Ministry researcher Christian Klement told BT. He added that 27 percent of gang members are on welfare compared to just eight percent of the general population.
“One explanation is that bikers, in particular, exploit social systems. But I believe that the primary reason is that these people are simply socio-economically disadvantaged,” Klement said. “We know very well that where you have socio-economically disadvantaged people, you typically have a larger proportion of criminals.”