Victorian Police Minister Lisa Neville has said youth crimes in her state are mainly committed by Australians.
‘We’ve got to be clear, this is not just an African youth problem,’ she said when questioned about African gangs such as Apex.
‘Overwhelmingly Australian citizens are the offenders, some of those are African-born,’ she told Tony Jones on 3AW.
She said statistics do not support the perception African youths are responsible for the majority of crimes, but admitted they were over-represented and causing fear.
Victorian Police Minister Lisa Neville (pictured) has denied her state has a problem with African youths committing crime
She said youth crime in Australia is mainly committed by Australian citizens, some of whom are African-born (pictured is an incident in Maribyrnong)
The Police Minister said the gangs squad has been effective at disrupting criminal groups, many of which contain African and non-African youths working together.
Ms Neville also criticised a Coalition plan to give heavy jail terms to drug dealers who sell ice to people who go on to commit murders.
‘This is an insidious horrible drug, we do need to from all fronts deal with this,’ she said, but said the Coalition proposal was not the way to go.
Victorian Liberal Party leader Matthew Guy responded to Ms Neville’s comments on Twitter soon afterwards.
‘This Minister has had three years to stop ice dealers and has done nothing. Victorians deserve better than a “more of the same” approach to law and order,’ he wrote.
Victoria Police have insisted they don’t have an African gang problem in Melbourne after coming under fire over a series of incidents involving African youths.
Police have released images of a person (pictured, left, right) they believe can assist them with their inquiries
An officer was crouching on the ground trying to arrest a boy, 16, when his face was kicked
The comments from Superintendent Therese Fitzgerald came after a boy kicked a police officer in the head as he crouched down attempting to arrest a 16-year-old youth for alleged shoplifting on Boxing Day.
The scuffle at Highpoint Shopping Centre, at Maribyrnong in Melbourne’s west, was caught on CCTV on Tuesday afternoon.
However, Superintendent Fitzgerald said this latest incident involving African youths was not a sign there was an ethnically-related gang problem, amid a spate of crime linked to Apex gangs.
‘We have problems with youth crime across the state and it’s not a particular group of youths we are looking into. It’s all youths. It’s youth crime,’ she told reporters.
Superintendent said ‘youth crime in general’ was to blame – a week after police were pelted with rocks after being called to an AirBnB house at Werribee, in Melbourne’s west.
The scene inside the trashed AirBnB house at Werribee in Melbourne’s western suburbs
Police were pelted with rocks as they attended an AirBnB house at Werribee in Melbourne
Officers were forced to retreat from the house, trashed inside by a party, when more than 100 youths of primarily South Sudanese appearance turned on them.
Photos taken from inside the house show walls kicked and punched in, mattresses thrown on top of furniture and pepper spray splattered across bedroom curtains.
Neighbours say they were left terrified when youths from the house started roaming the streets, throwing rocks and smashing cars.
Less than a week later, a police officer was kicked in the face as he crouched down trying to arrest a 16-year-old boy for alleged shoplifting at Highpoint Shopping Centre.
The scuffle, which was captured on CCTV, unfolded in front of shocked Boxing Day shoppers before the assailant ran from the centre into the car park.
Werribee resembled a war zone on December 20 as African youths pelted police with rocks
The senior constable sustained non-life threatening injuries and was taken to hospital as the youth who assaulted him remained at large.
‘It could have been a lot worse and I’m pleased to report he’s returned to work today,’ Superintendent Therese Fitzgerald told reporters on Wednesday.
‘He’s got bruising to his eye but is in very good spirits.’
A 16-year-old Flemington boy was arrested over the alleged theft but he was released pending further inquiries.
The scuffle captured on CCTV,unfolded in front of shocked Boxing Day shoppers in Melbourne
Police are wanting to speak to a teen who is described as African in appearance and was wearing a white top and black bandana.
In June, at nearby Footscray, a man was struck in the head with a tomahawk as a gang of 15 African youths burst into a barber shop and began rioting.
In April, a gang of five Sudanese teenagers allegedly bashed their autistic classmate, in a horrific attack on a bus at Tarneit, in Melbourne’s west.
The 17-year-old student was travelling alone to the city centre, when five boys approached him and told him to hand over his mobile phone and new Nike shoes.
The senior constable’s face was kicked in on Boxing Day (Highpoint Shopping Centre pictured)