Uniform anti-gang laws are needed alongside more policing

Gangland pulls out of cemetery, victim’s 4×4 riddled with bullet holes; masked gunmen crash their getaway car into a fire hydrant, then escape after hijacking an innocent bystander, traumatizing a mother and child.

The events around Fawkner Cemetery last Saturday looked more like something out of a Hollywood action movie extravaganza than a wintry weekend afternoon in Melbourne’s northern suburbs.

The black Mercedes outside Fawkner Police Station with three bullet holes in the driver’s side window. Suleiman “Sam” Abdulrahim was injured in the attack.Credit:Paul Jeffers

But for many, the failed killing of former biker Sam Abdulrahim brought back memories of a time when Melbourne was known for its seemingly relentless string of brutal gang killings.

Melbourne’s gang wars in the early 2000s continued unabated until the protagonists nearly killed each other or ended up in jail (or both, as in the case of Carl Williams).

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God forbid, we’re back to the days when there was more than enough fodder to fuel a long-running TV series, making criminals household names. Still, the signs are not good: In the past month alone, seemingly unrelated to the Fawkner incident, homes in Epping and Pascoe Vale were sprayed with bullets in drive-by shootings.

Friday’s announcement, therefore, of a new police task force to deter and disrupt organized crime is welcome. It will target criminal groups through, among other measures, firearms prohibition orders, bail checks, vehicle checks and police motorcycle races and other events attended by outlaw gang members.

We’re pinning high hopes on Chief Commissioner Shane Patton’s promise of “immediate community safety results.” The task force even has a carefully crafted acronym, VIPER, which stands for Visibility, Intelligence, Prevention, Enforcement and Reassurance.

However, it is concerning whether gang violence is now clearly such a problem in Victoria that it requires 80 specialist officers to be withdrawn from their current jobs deemed necessary to try to tackle it.

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