23 Aug 2012

How To Beat Up Sudanese Crime Stats

By Tamar Hopkins
A Sudanese crime wave in Melbourne? Don't buy it, says solicitor Tamar Hopkins who works with Sudanese youth. The media's fascination with African crime fuels racist stereotypes
Statistics are interesting things. Victoria Police statistics show that less that 1 per cent of people generating crime statistics are Sudanese. Not exactly a crime wave. And yet, this handful of Sudanese people committing crimes makes front page of The Age, replete with fears of a Melbourne Cronulla-style riot. What about the number of White people committing crimes? British born? Italians? Greeks? What about the 99 per cent?

No, African crime is a focus for the media.

It is also a focus for law enforcement. Crime statistics (and media reporting) tell us a lot about who is being targeted by the police. For example, when police target speeding, charges relating to speeding offences go up. When they target people going through stop signs, these statistics go up. Similarly when they target African youth, African crime statistics go up.

In our legal centre's experience, numerous crime statistics involving Africans are police generated. This means that there is no underlying crime that causes the police interaction. Instead, it is the interaction between the police and youth itself that generates charges of resist police, assault police, offensive language and fail to give name and address — among others.

How many Africans are stopped for a "routine intercept", the official term for what is known colloquially as "driving while black"? How many youths are stopped for wearing caps backwards and baggy trousers, apparently signs of "gang" membership to those in the know? Stereotyping by police leads to over-policing. And unfortunately, the targeting of non-crimes redirects police resources away from investigations into family violence and stalking offences and hate-related crimes.

It is critical to realise that crime statistics are not statistics on successful prosecutions. Numerous African clients of mine have been arrested numerous times without being charged. Some of these arrests are for assault matters. Briefs may not be authorised, charges may never be laid, or may be withdrawn by the police or dismissed after hearing, and yet they all still rate as a crime statistic. Post-prosecution crime statistics would paint a more truthful picture. Also, because of the relatively small numbers of crimes that we are dealing with here, activities by a tiny few committing a large number of crimes can skew the figures.

Let's be serious. We are talking about less than 1 per cent of the total crime statistics, yet the topic fascinates the media and the police. The media's fascination with African crime causes the stereotyping and stigmatisation of an entire community of people because of their race. Racist assumptions of criminality flow from media reports. Juries may then find it easier to convict when evidence is equivocal. Reports about African crime are used by police to justify stopping and searching Africans to investigate whether they might have committed a crime (racial profiling).

Violent crimes committed by people regardless of their racial background is a terrible thing and Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner Tim Cartwright and Impower's Abeselom Nega both agree that crime is ultimately not solved by police locking up people.

It is solved by tackling the root causes of crime: socio-economic disadvantage and discrimination. Crime statistics across the community could be reduced by re-funding TAFEs and other forms of education, properly funding agencies that support and empower youths and spending money on meaningful local job creation.

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Posted Thursday, August 23, 2012 - 16:58

Last paragraph says it all. How hard can it be?

Posted Thursday, August 23, 2012 - 17:52

Are they one percent of the population? No? Then you look rather silly, or at least duplicitous.

There was a big machette fight at a Sudanese wedding in Sydney a few months ago. So good to have these people bringing their quaint folkways to Oz.

This user is a New Matilda supporter. ErikH
Posted Thursday, August 23, 2012 - 23:18

Did you actually read the article, LifeMasque, or do you have blinkers on?

As the author points out, the relevant statistic should be conviction rates, not arrest rates. Even then, it's not always as simplistic as you want to make it out to be. My wife worked at Minda Juvenile Correction Centre in the late '90s. The vast majority of the inmates were from the Islander, Aboriginal and Vietnamese communities. Does that mean there weren't any "whites" committing crime? No, it does not, but either they could afford lawyers or the police didn't pick them up because they weren't the right racial profile.

Posted Friday, August 24, 2012 - 19:51

Thats right LifeMasque, ErikH has got it.

Aust. is a Nation of Pedophiles and its out of control in some country towns. Do you get write ups about that every day, no.

For 200 years, if we couldn't bring ourselves up in the ethical stakes etc. we just brought others down.

Some call it the tall poppy syndrome, it isn't, wasn't.
It was the English ver Irish.
Catholics ver Protestant
Aussie???? ver Chinese, Turks, Germans, Vietnamese, Muslims, etc. etc. etc.

Thats what the intervention was all about. We were saying in effect, "look the rest of the world, it isn't us whites here that are doing all this Pedo crap, its them blacks."

Lets stop the crap. You commit a crime you do the time. Black, White, Pink or Purple.

Name calling and finger pointing is for kids, lets get on with it.

The Empire is dead, your not going to bring it back here. It moved to the U.S when our pommy Masters realised England wasn't ever going to fight, finance or win another war on their behalf, when the boys crawled home from Dunkirk in defeat and defeat it was.

You haven't gone to too many White/Anglo weddings have you LifeMasque or Parties that were Gate Crashed by hundreds of our brain dead youth, have you?, thats right, blinkered.

Selective vision, hearing and opinions, I bet your a naive, ignorant Bushy, Bumpkin. I can always tell a Hick attitude.

Posted Wednesday, August 29, 2012 - 02:34

If you look at the ABS report: 2011: Prisoners in Australia looking at convicted criminals, Sudanese born people are well and truly over represented in convictions for serious offences with the exception of serious drug offences.

Posted Wednesday, August 14, 2013 - 15:40

Better yet, look at the roots of the problem, and look for ways to solve it. Unless, this issue is being addressed, this will only continue to happen again. - Scott Safadi