'Police ignored our plea for help'
A BALLINA family has accused local police of ignoring their pleas for help when a gang of youths threatened them with knives, broken glass bottles and sticks and smashed the window of the family's car.
The family, who have asked to remain anonymous, say the incident occurred earlier this month during an 18th birthday gathering at Lighthouse Beach.
When the family drove to the beach about 11pm on Saturday, February 4 to check on the welfare of a group of 12 young people celebrating, they say they noticed a larger group of young people gathering nearby.
When the family returned to their car they found the windscreen had been smashed by a sandstone paver and the larger group of youths had smashed bottles and were approaching them.
The family claim they rang Ballina police three times for assistance fearing for their safety, and that of their son's group, but were told to call back if anything serious happens.
"My father got on the phone and told the police: "This is serious" But we were just told to move to a safety house," said one member of the family.
"We couldn't get past the group to find a safety house. They had sticks, knives and glass and we had no weapons. How would we be able to defend ourselves against so many of them?
"The police told us they had no cars available and would send a patrol car when they could, but it feels like they just ignored us. We could have been gang-bashed in the next five minutes and no-one cared and we couldn't get away."
Sergeant Greg Woolfe of Ballina police told The Northern Star that police received a call from a member of the group at 11.59pm.
He said no other calls from the family were recorded and a car was dispatched to the scene within the recommended time standards.
"A police supervisor attended the location within 15 minutes of the initial call. They spoke to people at the location who indicated that the caller had left and we subsequently confirmed they had attended Ballina police and reported the incident," Sgt Woolfe said.
The family representative told The Northern Star she felt there was a need to warn other people that it was unsafe to walk in Ballina after dark.
"I think this happens a lot in Ballina and the public need to know. We could have ended up in hospital," the woman said.
"You need to be careful in Ballina at night. This needs to be a priority for police.
"We were so shaken up. We'll never celebrate at the beach again. It will be backyard parties from now on."
The matter is still under investigation.