Australia Today

Victorian Police Chief Returns From Leave, Labels African Gang Crisis “Rubbish”

Back from six weeks of sick leave, Graham Ashton is coming for Peter Dutton.

by Katherine Gillespie
10 January 2018, 11:04pm

Graham Ashton yesterday, with African community leaders. Screenshot via 7 News

Melbourne’s so-called “African Gang Crisis” has resurfaced over the past month—that weird Christmas-New Years period when media outlets are forced to cobble together stories while most of their staffers are on holiday.

Things kicked off when Federal Security Minister Peter Dutton, who does not live in Victoria, warned that Melburnians are afraid to leave their houses at night for fear of gang violence. Since then, it’s been a frantic time for newspaper editors eager to commission op-eds predicting race riots and comparing Melbourne’s crime rate to that of South Africa’s.

But they can rest easy now: Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton has finally come back from six weeks of leave and he’s wasted no time calling literally everyone out for creating something out of nothing. At a press conference late yesterday, Ashton referred to Dutton’s claims as “complete and utter garbage”.

"Victoria is one of the safest places in the world to live,” he told reporters. “And the sort of concept that somehow it's unsafe to go out for dinner ... how long since you've been out for dinner?”

Ashton went on to say that Victorian Police are working with African community leaders to ensure positive outcomes for young people living in disadvantaged areas. He announced the establishment of an “African Australian community task force” which will work closely with police on youth offending and antisocial behaviour in Melbourne. It will also provide police with information on incidents of racial vilification and other hate crimes aimed at African Australians.

“Victoria Police has always enjoyed excellent relations with the African Australian community,” he said.

“That means working through emerging issues, identifying problems early and jumping on them before they can cause real harm...Throughout my discussions, the African Australian leaders have shown great resolve to work positively and proactively in the community and with police to bring these young criminals under control.”

In other youth violence news, yesterday VICE reported that Victorian police were injured in a major brawl involving more than 100 predominantly caucasian young people in Torquay earlier this month.

Follow Kat on Twitter

Peter Dutton
African Gang crisis