Australia

Melbourne people 'scared to go out at night': Dutton on African gangs

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Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has waded into the debate in Victoria about African street gang violence as the state government stands by its response.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton believes people in Melbourne are "scared to go out at restaurants" at night because of African street gang violence, as the Victorian government stands firm over its response to youth crime.

The state government has come under fire for its response to street violence involving groups of African teens after Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull blamed Premier Daniel Andrews for "growing gang violence and lawlessness" in Melbourne and Victoria.

"People don't see this in NSW, in Queensland, but the reality is people are scared to go out at restaurants of a night time because they're followed home by these gangs, home invasions, and cars are stolen," Mr Dutton told Sydney radio 2GB on Wednesday, without referring to any specific examples.

The immigration minister said Victorian judges and magistrates were not sending strong enough messages to juvenile offenders.

"I've said for a long time we need to respect the judiciary, but in the end the magistrates at a state level are appointed by the state premiers," Mr Dutton said.

"And if they're employing civil libertarians and people who won't put in place proper deterrence - well, you can expect the sort of outcomes we've seen in Victoria."

Mr Dutton also said offenders who remain in Australia on visas "do not belong in Australian society" and should be deported.

Australian Immigration Minister Peter Dutton
Peter Dutton says the people of Melbourne are scared to go out at night in response to reports of African gang violence.
AAP

The federal government has already cancelled the visas of 12 offenders in Victoria who are originally from Sudan, other African countries and New Zealand after state authorities referred 18 cases.

Victoria's Youth Affairs Minister Jenny Mikakos says tackling youth crime and gang violence will take more than the simplistic answers offered up by critics.

"For those people who are running around putting about simplistic answers, all I can say is that is a complete con job," she told reporters in Melbourne.

"Because one thing alone is not going to fix this issue."

Ms Mikakos said youth crime is not a new issue, and authorities have been working with police and community organisations to focus on prevention and early intervention for a number of years.

"We have a very significant number of young people of African descent in custody in our youth justice system at the moment," Ms Mikakos said.

Data from the Crime Statistics Agency shows a decline in the number of young criminals, as well as a decline in the proportion of total crime committed by young people, over the past 10 years.

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