Indians are "bearing the brunt" of an upswing in violent street crime in Melbourne because of the type of jobs and hours they work, said a top Australian police official, but denied they were racist attacks.
Victorian Deputy Police Commissioner Ken Jones said racism is not endemic in Melbourne and the issue needs to be discussed.
"We have got murderers and rapists, but for a developed country, less than our share. We've got less than our share of racists, but we have got them," Jones was quoted as saying by The Australian.
"The more we can be accurate in our discussion... the more likely we are to be able to focus on that small element of society and prosecute it. The more scattergun our commentary and approach is, we are offending an awful lot of people unnecessarily."
While conceding that Indians were "bearing the brunt" of a rise in violent crimes in Melbourne, Jones said Indians should not be blamed for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
"The fact we have got morons out there waiting to attack people who happen to be wandering through a park late at night is a problem for us all," said Jones, whose immediate aim is to find the killer of Nitin Garg, the Punjab-born accountancy graduate stabbed to death two weeks ago.
He said his longer term task is "closing the gap" between public perceptions and the reality of crime.
Jones, who has worked in England, Los Angeles and New Delhi, claimed that Melbourne has an extremely low crime rate.
"If we amplify the problem, we are more likely to get inaccurate policy responses as well as fear of crime that doesn't match reality," he told the daily.
"There is crime out there. We need to address it and we are addressing it. But we need to address it in a targeted way. We're not going to do that if perception either wildly underestimates or overestimates the real threat," he said.