Byron ‘not a safe town for police’
IT WAS only good luck that resulted in no "wild brawls" in Byron Bay over the New Year's period says NSW Police Association Byron Bay branch administrator Troy Hamilton.
It was not a safe town for police to work in at any time of the year, he said.
Mr Hamilton has written to Local Government Minister Don Page and the Parliamentary Secretary for Police and Emergency Services, Tweed MP Geoff Provest, seeking the urgent allocation of 10 extra police to the town year-round.
He said the local area command did the best with what it had, but police numbers were inadequate for what was an international tourism hot-spot with a high rate of alcohol and drug-related crime.
"The mechanism the department uses to calculate how many police in Byron doesn't work here due to the town's (unique) nature," he said.
Mr Hamilton said during the day just the one police car crew, even with assistance from the Target Action Group, was seriously inadequate when crowds could rival that on a Saturday night.
He said there had been a 56% increase in police assaults and resisting arrest charges in the town since 2010 with police being used as "punching bags".
There were 10 such incidents over New Year's Eve alone.
He said it was a situation that police would not put up with indefinitely, but he declined to speculate at this stage what kind of action they might take.
On the Sunday before New Year's Eve, he said there was a rolling "mini-brawl" on Main Beach that just four police officers had to contain, one of many incidents which could have easily escalated into a serious episode.
He said the number of drug detections in Byron Shire had risen from 860 in 2011 to 1564 in 2012 with 90% of those charges laid in Byron Bay.
Mr Page said he would meet with Mr Hamilton to discuss his concerns.
"It's my intention to go to Geoff Provest and to talk to Superintendent Stuart Wilkins, the Local Area Commander, and then raise this matter with the Minister for Police," Mr Page said.