Federal cooperation to help Victoria fight crime gangs

Federal coooperation to help Victoria fight crime gangs Source: AAP

SBS World News Radio: Federal cooperation to help Victoria fight crime gangs

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has announced more support for Victoria to help the state fight gang-related violence.

Mr Turnbull made the announcement in Melbourne with federal justice minister Michael Keenan and Australian Federal Police (AFP) acting commissioner Michael Phelan.

The extra support for Victoria comes out of a $321 million funding boost for the AFP announced in this year's budget.

Mr Turnbull says the money will be spent on a range of services, including helping Victoria fight what authorities say is an increase in youth crime.

"What we are providing to the AFP with that additional support will fund an extra hundred intelligence experts, over a hundred tactical-response and covert-surveillance operators and almost a hundred forensic specialists to strengthen our fight against crime. We'll have more police negotiators, more online investigators and undercover officers, who will deliver more physical-surveillance teams and canine resources specialising in drugs, cash and explosive detection, as well as digital forensic specialists and crime-scene investigators."

Mr Turnbull announced an AFP officer would also be sent to work with Victoria Police's intelligence unit to improve cooperation between the agencies.

Mr Turnbull says he wants to ensure the AFP has the specialist capabilities it needs to counter crime and terrorist plots as they unfold.

State authorities will also be given access to digital and surveillance tools to deal with the threat of terrorism.

On the issue of organised crime and gangs, Mr Turnbull says over 140 outlaw motorcycle-gang members and organised-crime figures have had their visas cancelled in recent years.

"We have increased the number of cancelled visas for reasons of character -- bad character, obviously -- since 2014 12 times, by 12-fold. And this has been used to, when we identify members of outlaw motorcycle gangs or other gangs or criminal activity who are then brought to justice and convicted, their visa can then be cancelled, and, if they are not Australians, they can be sent back to their country of origin."

Michael Keenan says extra support for Victoria is needed because of an increase in youth criminal gangs in the state.

"We've further enhanced that cooperation, but particularly for the benefit of people here in Victoria who are dealing with an unprecedented crime wave of youth criminal gangs. So we are deploying all of our resources of Commonwealth law enforcement to assist the Victorian Police's efforts. We are going to be placing one of our officers within the state-intelligence area of Victoria Police, and they will be able to feed back to all of our intelligence capability available to Commonwealth law enforcement."

Victoria Police would use the new technology they can now access to disrupt gangs such as the infamous Apex gang.

Michael Phelan says the measures are about disrupting the cycle of crime in young people before it becomes entrenched.

"As far as we're concerned, it's about bringing capability right across the country. But at the moment, the acute need, I suppose, is what's developed over the last couple of years. We all see with youth gangs, in particular, how that moves into other serious and organised crime later on. So, like any preventative measure, we'd like to take the first step here and work very closely with the Victorian police."




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