Byron police plan schoolies crackdown
By RACHEL AFFLICK email@example.com
SCHOOLIES has barely begun but Byron Bay police have already swung into action over alcohol-related crime.
In what is an annual rite of passage, schoolies flock to Byron Bay to relax, drink and blow off steam while they celebrate the end of Year 12.
But just a few days into the celebrations, underage drinking, intoxication and supplying alcohol to minors are some of the offences for which people have been fined.
The charges were laid as part of a covert operation by police cracking down on licensed venues over the weekend. A total of 18 venues were targeted. And police have warned more of these operations are on the way.
"Police will continue to target anti-social behaviour and alcohol-related crime," Byron Bay Police Inspector Owen King said.
Since schoolies kicked off on Friday night a number of Byron Bay pubs and clubs have been fined for 'licensing breaches'.
In two cases underage kids were allegedly discovered by police in licensed venues, including in a nightclub in Lawson Street. The offence carries a $550 fine.
Inspector King could not say if alcohol-fuelled crime was up this year, as it was the first time the police had run covert operations in the first week of schoolies.
But he said alcohol-related crime was an ongoing issue in Byron Bay
"So far it has been nothing we don't expect. With more people in town we'll have additional police on duty for the next couple of weekends," Inspector King said. It also coincided with large numbers of former school students converging on the town.
The first of the schoolies, mostly from Queensland, started arriving in the town on Friday evening.
Although there are no official organised events in Byron Bay, chairman of the local Liquor Accord and owner of Cocomangas, Gary Charles, said Byron Bay was a popular schoolies destination and venues would be amping up security for the occasion.
Black lights will be used to detect fake IDs and the Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing will have extra inspectors in town checking up on licensed venues to make sure they are doing the right thing.