Police have expressed concern over new figures that show Somali and Sudanese-born Victorians are five times more likely to commit crime than the wider community.
While the volume of crime is not significant, police say the trend needs to be stopped.
Assistant Commissioner Stephen Fontana says he is also concerned about the age of the offenders.
“A lot of the offences that we’re concerned about are assaults and street robberies,” he said.
“We’re particularly concerned about the violence on occasions and also the age of the individuals involved.
“The vast majority are under 21 years of age.”
Mr Fontana says police are doing a lot of work with the communities.
He dismissed suggestions, however, that the social unrest experienced during the Cronulla riots could be replicated in Melbourne.
“If we don’t stop the trend now, in the future we could have concerns.”
But Ross Barnett, the director of the Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria, has dismissed the statistics.
“Police data is notoriously unreliable, so I think we need to take it with a grain of salt,” he said.
“We do need a broader approach.
“I think, as has been pointed out by other people, there is a significant level of disengagement with African youth.”