Get the pervs off our beach
By STEPHANIE FORESTER
TYAGARAH residents have had enough of perverts on their beach and they want police and council help to 'clean up the dunes'.
Schoolteacher Belinda Fleming, who is a regular at the beach, said while she had no problem with nudity, she was fed up with fearing sexual harassment when she went for a swim. Ms Fleming said two years ago a man had lain down beside her towel and masturbated while she was swimming.
A week later the same man circled her nude while she was exercising.
"I rang my husband. He came down and we called the police," she said.
"The man was charged and convicted and he's just appealed his conviction a second time."
Byron Shire Council's compliance director, Chris Pratt, said under the Local Government Act there was nothing the council could do to redress the situation other than overturn its 'clothing optional' status.
Ms Fleming said with summer coming she feared there would be an increase in 'unsavoury behaviour' at the beach.
She said she supported the beach's clothing optional status, but the council and the police had a responsibility to assist locals in ensuring it was a safe place to be.
She said most local women had stories of sexual ha- rassment at the beach, but sharing tales over cups of tea was not productive.
"It's imperative we call the police every time there's an incident," she said.
"I know it's difficult to make the call, but we have to.
"It's an invasion and I'm tired of women saying they feel prickles up their spine here.
"Let's not wait until something dreadful happens for us to do something about it."
Inspector Owen King, of Byron Bay police, urged people to report offensive behaviour.
He said just one or two incidents had been reported last summer.
"We investigate all calls and take them very seriously," he said.
"We get very, very few complaints about Tyagarah and encourage people to report any unacceptable be- haviour there."