Australia

Victoria's African leaders, police on patrol to target youth crime

African-Australia leaders and police patrol a shopping centre in Melbourne's west to target anti-social behaviour.

African-Australian community leaders and police have patrolled a shopping centre in Melbourne's west following a spate of high-profile youth crimes.

South Sudanese leaders joined officers at Tarneit Shopping Centre on Sunday afternoon, Wyndham Inspector Peter Bitton said.

"The joint-patrol is just one of the ways that police are working with the community hand-in-hand to address the criminal behaviour that we've seen recently," Acting Insp Bitton said.

People of African appearance have been linked to a string of riots, home invasions and armed robberies since early December.

"We all have a collective social responsibility to address the issues we've been seeing in our community, and this is one of the ways we're working together to tackle them head-on," the inspector said.

A pop-up police station was be set up at the shopping centre to allow community members to speak to officers and leaders directly.

Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner Andrew Crisp on Friday attempted to ease tensions, but said Victoria was not facing a crime crisis.

"There is 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," he said.

"We've seen... a spike in antisocial behaviour over summer, over the last few weeks, but this is not a crisis."

The state government has also hit back at claims from the opposition and the federal coalition that Victoria's judiciary is soft on crime.

Victoria had 8726 young offenders in 2015-15, NSW 20,051, and Queensland 12,931, figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show.