Waleed Aly Takes Aim At The 'Fear' Of African Gangs

There's an election coming up.

Waleed Aly put the facts on the table on Thursday's The Project.

Earlier in the week, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said on talk-back radio that Sudanese gangs were a "real concern" for the Victorian community.

"You'd have to be walking around with hands over your ears in Melbourne not to hear it," he said.

Image: 3AW Radio

This is a rhetoric that has been pushed by Liberal in the lead-up to the elections, although someone clearly forgot to tell Christopher Pyne the party line.

But as Aly pointed out, these comments don't match the statistics.

In Victoria, according the state's Crime Statistics Agency, crime actually dropped 8.8 percent in the last year.

Sudanese-born Victorians make up just 0.1 percent of the population, and account for just one percent of all crimes committed in the state.

While the Sudanese community is over-represented in crime statistics, the raw numbers show the 'crimewave' is hardly the epidemic it is being made out to be.

For example, for aggravated burglaries committed by Sudanese-born Victorians, there were just 70 cases in the last year.

Dr Rebecca Wickes, a criminologist, condemned politicians for using the numbers 'erroneously.'

"They're cherry-picking these numbers to suit a purpose that isn't really about a crime problem," she said.

But the Victoria Police has established a task force with African-Australian leaders to address the over-representation in crime statistics.

In a statement to The Project, Victoria Police said it and the African-Australian communities are "working extremely hard" to deal with the issue.

They also pointed out that the Prime Minister's insistence that "gangs" were ruling the streets of Melbourne was not entirely correct.

"The groups that have been labelled 'gangs' are effectively groups of young people coming together, sometimes for one night to commit offence," it said.

"It's not what we have traditionally called gangs."

Kristen Hilton, Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commissioner, said the "wildly inaccurate" fear mongering is dangerous for the African-Australian communities.

"Over the last twelve months, we've seen a 34 per cent increase in the reports of racism to the Commission, and that increase has correlated with this public debate about race and crime," she said.

As for Australian-born Victorians -- they're accountable for 71 percent of the crimes committed in the state.

So if you're going to meet a criminal, they're 71.7 times more likely to be Australian-born.

Catch The Project from Sunday to Friday at 6.30pm on Ten and on Tenplay.