Byron violence on par with worst parts of Sydney
POLICE say that drunken violence in Byron Bay is on par with the most notorious areas of Sydney after another weekend of violence in the town.
Revellers out for a good time are ruining the tourist town, with several people hospitalised as a result of alcohol fuelled violence every weekend.
Last Saturday and Sunday were no exception, with seven separate incidents reported, all late at night or early in the morning after people have left packed clubs and pubs.
Tweed-Byron Police crime manager acting inspector Saul Wiseman said police were doing all they could to combat the problem.
"We've had more assaults in 2012 than 2011, despite doubling the number of police on the streets," he said,
"We need different solutions other than more police. We need everyone doing their role, we can't do it all. And we need more responsible service of alcohol, cultural solutions and an amount of personal responsibility."
Insp Wiseman said he was tired of having to deal with the same problem, which tied up police resources and frustrated the Byron community.
"Police are getting assaulted, people going out for a drink are getting assaulted. It's all alcohol related, there's antisocial behaviour everywhere. People fighting, urinating and defecating in the street, it's all happening," he said.
Insp Wiseman said that liquor accord meetings were held regularly and as a result the Byron Residents Action group was formed to find solutions to the town's problem with drunken violence.
"We need to implement solutions that we've talked about for 18 months. There has to be a change. They are seeking funding from the Attorney General's Department . But businesses and licensees can also help make a change as well," he said.
"We can take action against the visitors and town but it's not going to completely solve the problem. There's always more people coming off the bus. It's a mixed group. If it was just locals or tourists our solutions would be much easier to implement."
Byron Mayor Simon Richardson agreed that some tourists were using Byron as a party destination and showing little respect to residents.
"The message is simple, if you're using the town as your personal playground, go elsewhere. There are clubs closer you can go to," he said.
"Don't spoil us and we won't spoil you, respect our town and you'll get respect back."
Cr Richardson was adamant the problem was not just a Byron-centric issue, but a national problem related to Australia's drinking culture.
"It has afflicted mainstream society, but taken its time to get to Byron. Young men in their early 20's are drinking to excess. Part of the solution is additional state and local Government support."
"There's a great opportunity for the community to get together and turn things around. There's plenty of ideas and we need to put them to action."
The following incidents all occurred during the past weekend and demonstrate the violence occurring in Byron Bay:
- Two 25-year-old men were assaulted in the carpark of Hogs Breath Cafe about 3am on Sunday.They were knocked to the ground by two other males and it is unknown whether they were kicked or punched, but both had red marks on various parts of their bodies. There was no CCTV to capture the incident.
- A 21-year-old Sydney man was punched and elbowed in the face at La La Land by another man at 1.45am on Sunday.Detectives are investigating
- A 24-year-old Bangalow man was punched in the head on Johnson St by a 19-year-old Lennox Head man at 11.30pm Saturday.The offender was charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm and will appear at Byron Bay Local Court.
- A security officer was assaulted at Woody's Surf Shack whilst he was ejecting a 22-year-old Queensland man for being intoxicated at 12.20am Friday.The 22-year-old man was given an infringement notice for failure to quit.
- A security officer at Arts Factory was assaulted and received minor injuries during an altercation with a 23-year-old Ballina man at 12.40am Friday.
- A 31-year-old was arrested after an altercation with security at Cocomangas and was given an infringement notice for failure to quit at 2.45am Sunday.
- A 24-year-old man was assaulted in a club by an older Queensland man at about 1am Sunday. Investigations are continuing.