Law and order is shaping up to be a key issue in the November state election – but should not be used for political point scoring, according to two candidates for the seat of Tarneit.

Labor’s Sarah Connolly and the Greens’ Beck Sheffield-Brotherton stressed it was important not to abuse the issue of African youth crime for political gain out of respect to victims of crime and the local community.

The pair, and Liberal candidate Glenn Goodfellow, told Star Weekly last week that they were keen to understand the underlying issues fuelling youth crime.

Ms Sheffield-Brotherton said until the community felt safe again it needed its fair share of police resources and a strong police presence, while highly supervised community orders with a focus on building positive relationships and engagement were preferable to jail “in most circumstances” for offenders.

“The treatment of offenders needs to meet the dual goals of community safety in the short-term while also ensuring longer-term protection by avoiding turning young people into hardened criminals,” she said.

Ms Connolly said that if elected, she would ensure local police “continue to get the resources and powers they need to prevent, detect and disrupt crime”.

“Those responsible need to feel the full force of the law,” she said.

“I will also be focused on ensuring all young people in Wyndham get the opportunities they need to succeed in life, like a good education and employment opportunities.”

Ms Connolly and Ms Sheffield-Brotherton said they had each reached out to African and South Sudanese community leaders in a bid to understand the issues and offer their support, while Mr Goodfellow said he had links to the African community through his children’s school.

“A few Sudanese mothers at my children’s school stopped me to voice their disappointment in the events that happened in Wyndham Vale … they, like most families, want a safe neighbourhood for their children to grow up in,” Mr Goodfellow said.

“We need mandatory jail sentences for repeat violent offenders. We need tough bail laws, respect for victims of crime, and laws which protect our police from violent criminal attacks like police car ramming. For too long the Andrews government has had a soft approach to crime and Victorians have had enough.”

A phone poll conducted for The Age last week revealed that if the state election was held now, 36.1 per cent of respondents would vote Labor in the seat of Tarneit. A total of 30.1 per cent would vote for the Liberals.