Federal Labor figures have accused the Coalition of “desperate dog whistle politics” after its immigration spokesman Scott Morrison demanded “behaviour protocols” for asylum seekers.

Mr Morrison made the comments after a Sri Lankan asylum seeker living in Sydney on a bridging visa was charged with the sexual assault of a 20-year-old university student.

He is also facing internal criticism from Liberal backbencher Russell Broadbent, who has accused his own party of “vilifying” those who have sought Australia’s protection.

Speaking yesterday, Mr Morrison said: “It’s… important that the Government look at ensuring that police in particular are advised of people being released into the community in their jurisdiction, so that police are at least aware.”

“We also believe it is important there be mandatory behaviour protocols put in place for people released into the community.”

His comments sparked an angry response from refugee advocates, who say the policy would treat asylum seekers in a similar way to convicted paedophiles and could run the risk of creating a “vigilante mentality” among some members of the public.

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• Bianca Hall, National Times: Liberals under hammer over asylum seeker crime claims

ASYLUM seekers living in the community on bridging visas are about 45 times less likely to be charged with a crime than members of the public.

Figures from the Department of Immigration and Citizenship show that since November 2011, 12,100 asylum seekers have been released into the community on bridging visas. A spokeswoman said a handful - or five or fewer - had been charged with a crime. This equates to just 41.32 people per 100,000 people.

In 2010-11, the last time it compiled national crime data, the Bureau of Statistics reported police initiated proceedings against 371,040 offenders, or 1896 people per 100,000 people.

This is more than 45 times the number of proceedings against asylum seekers on bridging visas.

On Thursday, the storm over the call by the opposition immigration spokesman, Scott Morrison, for asylum seekers in the community to be monitored by police and conform to ‘‘behaviour protocols’’ entered its second day.

His comments followed the charging of a Sri Lankan asylum seeker over the sexual assault of a sleeping Macquarie University student. He fled when she woke up and screamed.

Mr Morrison called for an immediate suspension of asylum seekers being released into the community until protocols were introduced to notify police and neighbours beforehand. He said asylum seekers should not be housed near ‘‘vulnerable’’ people.

Read more:

Michael Gordon, The Age: The national disgrace that is our asylum-seeker debate