Police applaud behaviour over NYE
THOUSANDS of revellers turned out across the Northern Rivers on Thursday night to cheer in the new decade in what police have generally described as well-behaved celebrations, despite 17 arrests across the region.
Alcohol bans from Brunswick Heads to Evans Head, which had attracted some criticism, appear to have achieved what authorities hoped for with police, ambulance officers and revellers themselves giving festivities the thumbs-up.
While injuries were down on previous years, a 16-year-old Queensland girl is in a critical condition in the Gold Coast Hospital after being hit by a car at Byron Bay just after midnight on New Year’s Eve.
Tweed-Byron police Inspector Darren Steel said the girl had run on to Ewingsdale Road about 12.10am.
He said a Queensland man driving a Queensland-registered vehicle swerved, but was unable to avoid a collision. The girl suffered serious head injuries and was treated by paramedics at the scene before being taken to Byron Bay Hospital.
She was later transferred to the Gold Coast Hospital by ambulance. The Westpac Rescue Lifesaver Helicopter couldn’t assist with the transfer as it was grounded at the Butler Street Reserve, with take-off hampered due to fruit bats flying in the area.
Police were yesterday trying to contact the girl’s parents.
While crowds were down on previous years, Insp Steel estimates there were about 15,000 revellers at Byron Bay and behaviour was ‘pretty good’.
“Police were mostly occupied with confiscating alcohol from people drinking in the streets,” he said.
Insp Steel believes Byron Shire Council has ‘got the mix right’ with its strategy to restrict alcohol and promote a family-friendly environment.
While many noted how much safer the streets of Byron felt, families were still thin on the ground this year.
The Northern Star spoke to several families who thought it would take some time toencourage others back to the party town.
Richmond Local Area Command’s Detective Inspector Greg Moore agreed the alcohol bans were working.
“Based on initial feedback it certainly has had a positive effect on crowd behaviour and a decrease in alcohol-related offences,” he said, referring to the usual hot spots of Evans Head and Lennox Head.
“I think it’s a small price to pay for everyone being able to have a good time, and there were still plenty of pubs and clubs open to have a beer in a safe environment.”
Seven people were arrested in Byron Bay and 43 weredetained for consumption of alcohol in a public place and other offences, including one for setting off unlicensed fireworks.
Five were arrested at Evans Head, three in Lismore, one in Ballina, and one in Nimbin on charges including assault, affray, drug possession and resisting arrest.