Victoria: ‘African gangs’ and the push to lock kids up

The state Labor government has proposed legislation to recruit an additional 2500 police officers who can hand notices to children as young as 14 forbidding them to “associate” with certain individuals for three years.

A crime wave is sweeping Melbourne caused by “out-of control African gangs”’ if we are to believe Channel 7, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Coalition MPs and even Victorian police minister Lisa Neville, who claimed: “This core group of African youth are causing huge fear.”

Turnbull intoned with all the gravitas of a ventriloquist’s dummy: “There is a gang issue here and you are not going to make it go away by pretending it does not exist.”

Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton, Minister for Health Greg Hunt and Coalition MP Tim Wilson all claimed Melburnians are so paralysed with fear that pubs and restaurants are deserted in the city — never mind that not a single restaurant has reported closing even for an hour for lack of customers.

The solution to this “crime wave”, however, seems to vary depending upon whether one is a Coalition MP at the federal level or a Labor MP in the state parliament.

Federal Coalition MPs see the solution to the “breakdown in law and order” in federal intervention through a bigger role for the Australian Federal Police.

Victorian Labor Premier Daniel Andrews has sought to tackle the “gangs terrorising” helpless diners in restaurants by further militarising the police with bigger guns, bullet-proof vests and greater powers of handing out “anti-association” notices to kids as young as 14.

In all this, the Crime Statistics Agency reports that the crime rate dropped 6.2% in Victoria last year and deputy police commissioner Andrew Crisp said there was no gang problem in Victoria.

Now, with an election in November, the state Labor government has proposed legislation to recruit an additional 2500 police officers who can hand notices to children as young as 14 forbidding them to “associate” with certain individuals for three years. For children with physical or mental impairment and Aboriginal youth, the notices will expire after 12 months.

Anyone breaching the notice can be jailed for up to three years, thus effectively introducing the crime of guilt by association. Children can be jailed for simply playing footy, going to the movies, having a barbeque or for communicating online with others.

While the “African gangs” might go the way of the disappearing “Apex gang” after what is likely to be a “law and order, tough on crime” election, the sweeping powers to ban and arrest will continue to blight the lives of some of the most marginalised in society.

These new powers will remain hovering over the heads of all to be arbitrarily exercised to further divide and rule all of us.