Indian community in fear after spate of attacks in Melbourne suburb

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People of Indian heritage in Melbourne's outer west say they are living in fear of being targeted by youth gangs after a string of violent attacks on the streets.

Police have warned residents of Manor Lakes, near Werribee, against taking the law into their own hands after an incident in which members of the community cornered a car full of young people seen driving around the neighbourhood and called triple zero last month. A neighbourhood watch group has since been established.

Chakri Chayanam in his neighbourhood.Credit:Eddie Jim

Mr Chayanam admits residents went too far when they cornered a car full of youths and called police, but he said anger had boiled over and many felt it was their only option to protect young people in the area from further attacks.

When police arrived that particular night, he said the residents were themselves warned against taking any vigilante action and the car load of youths drove away.

He praised the swift work of police in arresting the most recent offenders, but said the judicial system needed to be aware of the impact these crimes and the repeated release of attackers on bail were having on immigrant communities.

"We are not here to create a gang war but the courts, they need to hear what has been going on."

Footage shows trio attack teen boy in the driveway of his home during spate of violence across Melbourne’s west in recent weeks.Credit: 

In September, Deputy Commissioner Rick Nugent revealed police were struggling in the fight against youth crime, sparking the creation of Operation Alliance to combat youth gang crime statewide.

Mr Nugent said youth crime had risen almost 9 per cent in the year to July, with more than 19,000 alleged offender incidents occurring among young people aged 10 to 17. During the same period, more than half of all those charged with robbery were aged 10 to 17.

Mr Nugent said police had identified 42 teen gangs known to be causing harm across the state and involved in crimes including car thefts, home invasions and street robberies.

When asked about the recent spate of attacks in the Wyndham area, a police spokeswoman said everyone had a right to feel safe and police would continue to work "tirelessly" to protect the entire Victorian community.

Chakri Chayanam in his neighbourhood.Credit:Eddie Jim

She said Taskforce Wayward had arrested three teenagers following the series of alleged incidents and were committed to holding those who are causing harm in the community to account.

The spokeswoman also warned the community against taking the law into their own hands, with police to conduct regular, visible patrols across the Wyndham area.

"We want to reassure the community that we take all reports of crime very seriously and encourage everyone to speak to us if they need help," she said.

"We respect the right of the community to express their views peacefully and lawfully but we do not tolerate breaking the law," she said.

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