Teenagers involved in gang violence in Melbourne's west have been warned by Premier Daniel Andrews that they will "feel the full force of the law".
The Premier's comments come in the wake of what he called some "completely unacceptable conduct" that has occurred in parts of the west in recent days.
This has included an alleged assault on a police officer at Highpoint Shopping Centre in Maribyrnong, a near-riot at an Airbnb party in Werribee and the trashing of a local park in Tarneit.
Speaking on Friday, the Premier said those involved in attacking police, rioting on the streets and wrecking the park had "a wanton disregard for the safety of others."
"What's completely unacceptable is people behaving in a riotous manner," he said.
"Be in no doubt, if you're involved in those behaviours, you will feel the full force of the law.
"Whilst I know it it is tempting to try and excuse some of this behaviour, it's not excuses we need, it's arrests that we need."
For months, teens have been gathering at Ecoville Community Park in Tarneit, trashing buildings and play equipment, starting fights, lighting fires and terrifying nearby residents.
Drug paraphernalia has been found at the park on Cindia Crescent and walls and pavilions have been daubed with the letters "MTS", related to the increasingly prominent western suburbs gang Menace to Society and "Apex", a reference to a gang of greater notoriety.
The situation at the $4 million Tarneit development has been a long-term problem for the Wyndham police, community and council.
Emily Yuille, the manager of a South Sudanese community group in Wyndham, has been leading volunteer community outreach, security patrols and clean-up efforts in the park since May.
"Some of these kids have gone too far now and they're a disgrace to themselves and their community," Ms Yuille said.
"There's a lot being done here on a grass roots level to stop this."
Wyndham councillor Josh Gilligan said conditions at the park, which despite looking like public space is privately owned and overseen by an owner's corporation, had deteriorated over the past nine months.
"This is a much bigger issue than a small handful of young people running amok," he said.
"Because of the way it has been designed, built and operated there has been a lack of responsibility dedicated to the park which has made it unusable," he said.
"This is a very, very sad outcome for the community at large."
Councillor Gilligan said the issue showed there are lessons to be learned about the body corporate model when dealing with spaces intended for community use.
The park's owner's corporation is managed by Strata Data which was contacted for comment but has closed its offices over the Christmas period.
Councillor Gilligan said an application to dissolve the body corporate and potentially sell the park site would go before VCAT in January.
Police and community groups in the west have been facing mounting challenges in trying to stamp out a spate of escalating youth crime.
Earlier this month detectives linked Menace to Society to at least four violent and destructive sprees at short-term rental properties in Werribee and Docklands.
The walls of one Werribee property were sprayed with Apex and MTS tags, though police are now treating Apex graffiti as insignificant given youths increasingly refer to it in jest.
Speaking on the day after the Werribee incident, Wyndham's chief of police Inspector Marty Allison said the cultural backgrounds of those involved in the violence was irrelevant.
"This is not about ethnicity, it's not about people's background, it's not about religion, it's about their behaviour, so any conversation that goes on around ethnicity needs to be squashed."
On Boxing Day a police officer was assaulted while arresting a 16-year-old Flemington boy at Highpoint. A 17-year-old was charged over the incident on Friday evening.
Police Minister Lisa Neville told radio station 3AW police were making inroads into stopping gang-related offending.
"We've got to make sure people are held accountable," she said.
A Victoria Police statement on its youth outreach programs said addressing the underlying causes of these crimes was beyond the scope of any one organisation so officers were partnering with local government and community agencies.
"We also know that many young offenders have multiple complicating characteristics including socio-economic disadvantage, mental health issues, substance abuse, family dysfunction and a disrupted or problematic education history," a spokeswoman said.
Ahmed Hassan, of not-for-profit group Youth Activating Youth, said it was a shame that the actions of a few people damaged the reputations of so many.
"It makes me sad. These young people have feel they have no hope, no options and they're falling through the gaps," he said.
Mr Hassan, 21, said outreach programs in the area were having success.
"There will be progress but it will be slow," he said.
"Try to understand this person's background, try to understand the difficulties he's facing."
Maribyrnong College principal Nick Scott, who runs a program which has had success getting boys of African heritage to finish their VCE, said while no gang violence had enteredhis school it was easy to see the causes of such anti-social behaviour.
"Disconnection, feeling like no-one's in your corner, that you are just being typecast and that there's no way for you to have any kind of equal footing," he said.
"Generally you don't have too much trouble as an African boy when you're nine in terms of society judging you when you walk down the street, but as a 15-year-old young man all of a sudden people tend to get suspicious, every retail experience becomes problematic. Then that treatment, it just brings an attitude of no-one trusts us.
"I think in part they give up."