Victorian government fends off youth crime criticism

Melbourne – Australia

The Victorian government continues to fend off criticism over its handling of youth crime from federal MPs talking in Sydney.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton believes people in Melbourne are “scared to go out at restaurants” at night because of African street gang violence.

Victoria's handling of youth crime continues to come under scrutiny, with Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton weighing in from Sydney.

“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.

His comments come after Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull on Monday from a Sydney beach blamed Premier Daniel Andrews for “growing gang violence and lawlessness”.

Acting Premier and Member for Werribee, Tim Pallas, says Mr Dutton should apologise for his comments.

“I think the people of Werribee and the people of Wyndham deserve an apology from Mr Dutton. He’s gone too far just to make a political point,” Mr Pallas told the Nine Network.

He said the federal government was also to blame for the situation, for reducing allocations to migrant services including employment services.

Victoria’s Youth Affairs Minister Jenny Mikakos said tackling youth crime and gang violence would 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 was not a new issue, and authorities had been working with police and community organisations to focus on prevention and early intervention for a number of years.

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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