Police learn lessons from past schoolies
IT’S OFFICIAL – schoolies is now the busiest time of year for Byron Bay police, overtaking the Christmas and New Year party period.
Local police this year are expecting a population explosion in the small coastal town over the official schoolies fortnight, which begins on November 20.
The police response has been months in the planning.
“Schoolies is now the busiest time of the year for police,” Byron Bay Inspector Owen King said. “It’s busier than the Christmas-New Year period.
“I would expect there would be up to 20,000 extra people here over the two-week period.”
Insp King said additional police brought in from around the region would be patrolling on foot and on bicycles across the town for the full two weeks.
A command centre will be established at Apex Park and officers will be targeting antisocial behaviour, beach fires and enforcing alcohol-free zones, he said.
“There’s a zero tolerance for antisocial behaviours,” Insp King said.
“We don’t want to deter people from celebrating the end of school, but we need to manage them to ensure there is no increase in antisocial behaviours.”
Drug detection dogs may be also brought into town especially for schoolies and extra highway patrol staff will be conducting random breath tests, he said.
During last year’s schoolies celebrations, five people were charged with drug supply, there were 28 drug detections, 19 assaults, 33 drink-drivers identified and 150 people found using fake identification cards to hide their age.
Insp King said police needed to especially manage people aged under 18 who were not allowed to enter pubs and clubs.
“We have to manage the overflow that are generally under the age of 18 that can’t get into these clubs, that are in the park, on the beaches, on the street,” he said.
Police have been working closely with the Byron Schoolies Safety Response Working Group, which will also establish a ‘hub’ at Apex Park for the schoolies fortnight.
The hub will focus on harm minimisation and will be manned by volunteers providing information and counselling.
Noise complaints from locals can be directed to the Holiday Letting Association hotline on 6626 6888.
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