Victoria Police back-flip on African crime gangs - turns out they were there the whole time, the police just couldn't see them
One week ago there were no gangs and no African crime problem.
Anyone who spoke about "gangs" was doing the crime-fighting cause great harm.
There was a gang problem after all - and the Andrews/CFMEU government has been toiling away in lock-step with the greatest police force known to gang-crime-fighting to defeat it.
This is what it looks like when spin-doctoring and grovelling to politicians supplants leadership.
A weak, insipid, discredited bunch of weasel-word-spouting flakes whose word cannot be trusted.
Victoria Police Minister, Acting Commissioner admits African criminal gang problem
Victorian Police have said they are targeting African “street gangs” as they take a new, harder line approach cracking down on thugs running out of control and terrorising residents in the Melbourne’s suburbs.
Acting Commissioner Shane Patton has labelled a string of violent crimes throughout December as the work of African “street gangs” which the police force has been working for more than two years to get under control.
“These young thugs, because that’s what they are . are not an organised crime group like a Middle Eastern organised crime group or an outlaw motorcycle gang ... but they’re behaving like street gangs, so let’s call them that,” Mr Patton said.
“They’re acting like street gangs, we acknowledge that and we acknowledge that there is an issue.”
The announcement represents a sharp departure for Victoria Police and the Andrews government, which has consistently refused to label a violent crime wave gripping some parts of Melbourne as an African crime problem.
It comes the day after Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull slammed the Andrews government for its failure to tackle lawlessness and gang violence throughout Melbourne, and accused the Premier of lacking “the political leadership and determination.”
Today, Mr Patton and Police Minister Lisa Neville vowed to lock up gang members and violent offenders, and said more arrests would occur.
“We are in the arrest business. I don’t shy away from that and our police don’t shy away from that,” Mr Patton said.
“We will target them, we will continue to lock them up and do what the community wants us to do.”
Ms Neville said the crimes were being committed by a small “core group” of young Africans.
“This is a small but core group ... that’s causing huge fear. It’s inappropriate and unacceptable and will not be tolerated,” she said.
The pledge comes at the end of a month in which the city has been rocked by a string of high profile, violent attacks including a mugging rampage at St Kilda Beach and the brutal bashing of a policeman in a crowded shopping centre.
St Kilda residents and beachgoers were terrorised on December 13 when a series of African gang members converged on the esplanade, where they robbed and bashed dozens of beachgoers as they moved along the beach.
Later on, the groups descended on a local McDonalds where they threw furniture at the windows and broke into more fighting.
On Boxing Day, a police officer was left traumatised and suffering serious facial and head bruising after being kicked in the face while kneeling to arrest a young shoplifter.
Just before Christmas, Victoria Police were forced to call in the state’s riot squad to break up an out of control house party in Wyndham, after police were pelted with rocks and iron bars while attempting to disperse party goers.
So far, Victoria Police have arrested two thugs this month but say more arrests are coming.
Mr Patton denied that they had witnessed an escalation within the past month.
“There’s a common misconception that Victoria Police does not and has not acknowledged that its an issue. That is incorrect,” Mr Patton said.
“We have for a significant period of time acknowledged that there is an issue with the overrepresentation by African youth with serious and violent offending and public disorder issues.”
Victorian federal MP Jason Wood said the admission was coming too late, and that the problem had been allowed to spiral out of control because of the police’s reluctance to publicly identify the issue earlier.
“It’s a good step in the right direction to finally call it out for what it is, but its two years too late,” Mr Wood said.
“And in the meantime — because the government wouldn’t admit to it — there’s been no early intervention and not enough youth workers because the government and Victoria Police wouldn’t say that a gang problem in the African community existed.”
Mr Wood, lead a parliamentary inquiry into migrant settlement outcomes, following a spate of vicious home invasions in his electorate on the outskirts of Melbourne.
He said residents were living in near constant fear of going out after dark, and some homes attacked three times within eighteen months.
“You’ve got kids who are terrified and sleeping with their parents because their doors have been kicked in once, twice in a year by these teens who are after the house keys and car keys,” he said.
“My community is sick of home invasions from African gangs but the state government and the police just wouldn’t say it was an issue. But thankfully, they’re slowly heading in the right direction.”