Victoria hits back at Malcolm Turnbull over youth crime comments

The Victorian government has hit back at Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull after he accused it of not doing enough to stop youth crime and gang violence in Melbourne and across the state.

"We are very concerned at the growing gang violence and lawlessness in Victoria, in particular in Melbourne," Mr Turnbull told reporters in Sydney on Monday.

Mr Turnbull, pictured on New Year's Day, called ''growing gang violence and lawlessness'' a failure of the Andrews government.

Photo: AAP

"This is a failure of the Andrews Labor government."

The Prime Minister said Victoria Police had the capacity to do the job but needed better directions from the state government.

Labour's Philip Dalidakis lashed out over Mr Turnbull's comments.

Photo: Chris Hopkins

"But what is lacking is the political leadership and the determination on the part of Premier Daniel Andrews," Mr Turnbull said.

He said authorities needed "leadership, the direction, the confidence of the government to get on with the job and tackle this gang problem".

The state government said it did not want to play political games when it came to youth crime.

"We will take our instructions and advice from Victoria Police," acting Roads and Road Safety Minister Philip Dalidakis said.

"We certainly will not be taking suggestions or advice from a bloke who can't even put on a life vest when he's on a boat in Sydney Harbour."

Mr Turnbull was fined $250 in December for not wearing a life jacket while moving his dinghy near his harbourside Sydney home.

"If Malcolm Turnbull wants to play games instead of working in collaborative effort, then he can do so and talk to himself," Mr Dalidakis said.

Victoria Police also defended its efforts to address youth crime.

"I'm very confident where we're going and how we're tackling youth crime in this state," Deputy Commissioner Andrew Crisp said.

Mr Crisp said that while recent crime statistics showed police were locking up more people, they were also increasingly working with community leaders and youths.

"What Victoria Police does very, very well is work with the community," he said.

"We don't want to be locking up young people. We want to be proactive; we want to prevent crime in the first place."

The state opposition believes federal intervention is needed to make sure gangs "are met with the full force of the law".

"There is an emergence of a gang culture in Victoria which is attracting national attention, and it must be tackled, and it must be tackled urgently," shadow attorney-general John Pesutto said.

"These gangs don't fear police, they don't fear community, and they certainly don't fear the consequences."


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