Victoria’s African community will create a taskforce to work with police and tackle youth crime.
Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton met with leaders from Melbourne’s African community on Wednesday after a series of high-profile crimes involving youths of African appearance.
The taskforce will meet for the first time on Friday and will support police by providing information on emerging issues and hot spots, create a more efficient communication channel on how to prevent crimes, and tell officers of incidents of racial vilification.
‘We know that the vast majority of African Australians in Victoria are decent, law abiding people,’ Mr Ashton said in a statement.
‘They are suffering as a result of the actions of a small cohort of young offenders. The African Australian Community can, and want to, play a role in providing solutions.
‘Whilst we are already working collaboratively at the local level, this community taskforce will further strengthen these efforts.’
Mr Ashton returned from sick leave this week into a political controversy over festive season incidents, with the federal government accusing the state government of failing to act on the issue.
Melbourne’s west has been gripped by a violent crime spree involving South Sudanese youths and other young Africans who have joined the Apex and Menace to Society gangs.
On Wednesday last week, it was witnessed three African teenagers spitting at police as they were arrested at the Tarneit Central shopping mall in Melbourne’s west.
The flare up involved African teens and up to 20 officers.
Just three days after Christmas, in the same suburb, African youths calling themselves Menace to Society trashed the Ecoville Community Park, smashing furniture, windows and walls and spraying ‘MTS’ graffiti.
Only days before Christmas, ‘MTS’ graffiti was also scrawled on an AirBnB party house at Werribee, also in Melbourne’s west.
Rocks were also pelted at police forcing them to retreat from the house, when more than 100 youths of primarily South Sudanese appearance turned on them.
On Boxing Day, a police officer was kicked in the face when he tried to arrest a 16-year boy at the Highpoint Shopping Centre at Maribyrnong.
In June, a man was struck in the head with a tomahawk when a gang of 15 men burst into a barber shop at nearby Footscray and started brawling.
Malcolm Turnbull and a senior cabinet minister from Victoria have blamed the state’s premier for violent African gangs running rampant through Melbourne.
The prime minister said Daniel Andrews’ government was responsible for Apex and Menace to Society gangs terrorising residents.
‘We are very concerned at the growing gang violence and lawlessness in Victoria, in particular in Melbourne,’ he told reporters at Sydney’s Bondi Beach last week.