Gang crisis ‘real’
The victim of a violent home invasion in Melbourne’s west says the government and police are “wrong” to deny the state is facing an African gang crisis.
The victim of a violent home invasion in Melbourne’s west, who was slapped and threatened while the family house was ransacked, says the government and police are “wrong” to deny the state is facing an African gang crisis, urging leaders to visit victims of crime.
Val, who did not want her surname published, was minding her nephew’s family home last week when a group of more than 10 youths of African appearance shattered the glass back door and trashed the home, forcing her to sit in the front room while they threatened her with baseball bats and stole technology and money.
Nine days after the attack, 59year-old Val has watched with increased concern as the state government and police have stepped back from labelling a recent of spate of youth crime as a “crisis”. Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton at a press conference on Thursday rubbished claims that Melburnians felt unsafe to go out to dinner.
“I got very angry when I saw the police press conference. I thought you really need to open your eyes and look at what’s happening. You need to visit these areas which are quite highly populated,” Val told The Weekend Australian.
“They are gangs. You talk about bad motorcycle boys, well hang on a minute, these are no better than the motorcycle boys. They are running around and terrorising people, and they’re saying they are not gangs, they are saying there is no problem in Victoria. They are wrong.”
Her comments come as Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton yesterday said Premier Daniel Andrews had created the crime “mess” through appointments of magistrates and judges and not having adequate sentences and deterrences.
“The solution in part is to make sure that the appointment that you’re making to the magistrates court are people that will impose sentences and will provide some deterrence to people repeatedly coming before the courts,” Mr Dutton told 3AW.
“If you’re appointing civil libertarians to the magistrates court over a long period of time, you will get soft sentences and that’s the reality ... I’m blaming the state government for making appointments which I think you’re seeing the consequences of now.”
Victorian Attorney-General Martin Pakula later called Mr Dutton’s comments “completely unwarranted and untrue”.
“No government in recent memory has done more to appoint former prosecutors to our bench than this government and that has been something that we have done very consciously,” he said.
Victoria’s African community leaders and police met yesterday for the first time in a series of taskforce talks to tackle the issue. Before the meeting, Deputy Commissioner of Regional Operations Andrew Crisp told the ABC there was “not a crisis in this state in relation to crime, or the behaviour we’re seeing of a relatively small number of people of African background”.
Staying at her sister’s home in Melbourne’s west, Val said these kind of comments were sidelining a real problem.
“It’s only the victims that can tell them what’s happening, and how they feel,” she said. “I’d like to say, how would you feel if it was your mother, in your home?
“They need to have the resources; the police that can police the area. And the government need to really recognise the fact there is a problem in the community, there is problem in the African community.”
Val has taken six weeks leave from her volunteering job at the Red Cross while she recovers. She says she hopes something constructive can be done so the rest of the African community doesn’t suffer from the actions of a few.
“Where I work in the Red Cross I do work with a lot of African people, and they are beautiful people, really sweet natured. When my husband got carted off to hospital they went into the tea room and they prayed for him,” she said.
A petrol station in Narre Warren in Melbourne’s southeast was held up in the early hours of yesterday by two men of African appearance armed with a machete and large rock. They demanded cash from the register and fled.
‘They are running around and terrorising people, and they’re saying they are not gangs’ VAL HOME INVASION VICTIM
Val, a victim of a home invasion, in Melbourne yesterday