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Byron Shire
February 28, 2021

Byron tops region for bashings: report

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It’s official: Byron is the place on the north coast where you’re most likely to be bashed or indecently assaulted, according to new statistics released yesterday by the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR).

But there’s more: Byron also tops the state in theft from a person, per head of population.

Tweed Shire saw the greatest rise in domestic violence across the region.

Fraud is also on the rise across the northern rivers, according to the report.

In the category of violent crime, Byron incidents are 1.6 times the state average, while in nearby Ballina the likelihood is just 0.9.

Non-domestic violence, including alcohol-fuelled violence, worsened in Byron last year to 2.2 times the NSW rate per 100,000 population.

BOCSAR director Don Weatherburn said that per head of population, Byron ranked number five in the state for assaults.

In total, Byron recorded 314 non-domestic assaults in last year, compared to Ballina’s 187, Lismore’s 311, Richmond Valley’s 142 and Tweed’s 330.

Indecent assaults in Byron climbed to 2.5 times the state average last year.

Byron reported 67 indecent assaults, Ballina 42, Lismore 58, Richmond Valley 29 and Tweed 68.

Mr Weatherburn said that a large proportion of the increase in indecent assaults, act of indecency and other sexual offences in the last 24 months’ report has come from an increase in reports by child victims and can also be attributed to active campaigns encouraging reporting of sexual offences, which include indecent assaults.

He did not believe the same rationale was true for indecent assaults, however.

‘I’m very wary of simply brushing these figures aside as merely a case of better reporting,’ he told ABC radio this morning.

‘There’s no real reason to think people would become more willing to report domestic assault over just the last two years.’

Lismore recorded a 4.7 per cent drop in violent crime but is still 1.3 times the NSW rate.

As proof that statistics can sometimes be misleading, an apparent ‘spike’ in murders in Lismore last year, to double the state average per 100,000 head of population, in fact equated to one murder over the period.

Tweed saw a massive jump of 9.7 per cent in violent offences in the years 2012–13, including a 16.6 per cent increase in domestic violence (626 incidents in the past two years) and a 74.4 per cent increase in indecent assault.

Despite this it remained just under the state average for violent crimes overall at 0.9.

Richmond Valley saw a 19.4 per cent drop over the 2012–13 year in violent crime, and a 6.4 per cent decline over the whole period.

But even so the new figures were 1.4 times the NSW rate.

Property crime

Richmond Valley also saw a dramatic drop in property crime of 13.5 per cent in the years 2012–13, leaving it just above the state average at 1.1.

However it recorded an increase of break-and-enter (non-dwelling) offences last year to 2.3.

Other LGAs fared better in the area of property crime, with Lismore on 0.9, Tweed and Ballina on 0.8, and Byron standing out once again for all the wrong reasons on 1.5 times the NSW rate.

It recorded rates of stealing from a dwelling and stealing from a person at 2.2 and 2.8 times the state average respectively.

Fraud

Fraud is emerging as a growing area on the north coast, increasing in Richmond-Tweed by more than 18 per cent in a single year.

It has also become the fifth most common crime (with 924 incidents reported in the last 12 months) after malicious damage (2,624), stealing from a motor vehicle (1,350), non-domestic assault (1,327), break and enter (1,097) and domestic assault (944).

The rise in fraud is mainly owing to unauthorised use of credit cards.

Police commissioner Andrew Scipione said the rise in fraud offences served as a warning for people to take all possible precautions to protect the security of their banking details, particularly credit cards


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7 COMMENTS

  1. The above highly reputable BOCSAR report provides no better evidence why the NSW Government must immediately and decisively act to reduce late trading hours in Byron below the current 3am closing.

    The community can reasonably expect a 20% reduction in reported non domestic assaults (and associated public health and police costs) for every one hour reduction in extended trading.

    Early results in the new Sydney Entertainment Precinct of a 2hr reduction in trade to last drinks at 3am, are very promising. Manly has also established the overwhelming benefits of reducing their late trading hours.http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/new-booze-laws-make-the-city-and-kings-cross-a-safer-place-as-assault-incidents-fall-by-half-in-wake-of-lockout-laws/story-fni0cx12-1226869289625 .

    Why is our Byron community being continually deprived of similar life saving benefits by a Premier seemingly unconcerned with the safety of all other citizens and families in the remainder of 99% of NSW?

    It is time for our local MP and mayor to end the excuses and put the public and community’s safety and amenity ahead of the ongoing private commercial interests of a handful of problematic licensed premises by reducing late trading hours and a package of other proven prevention measures.

    It’s also time to end the charade of non compulsory membership of the Liquor accord with unenforceable and ineffective self serving license conditions. The local community must be afforded by OLGR and the Police, equal rights in all liquor related decisions that impact upon them and their families.

  2. This is not a good thing for our tourist market ,our region relies on tourists to survive.The Melbourne newspaper Herald Sun had Byron Bay in the Top 10 best holiday destination in Australia for families,these statistics will dampen our tourists spirits.
    We live in the Rainbow Region so let’s keep working for a happy and safe community.
    We must push for a Precinct Liquor Accord that will make all liquor sellers join the local Byron Bay Liquor Accord and also enforce a mandatory list of rules ,at the moment it is only a voluntary system of rules and only approximately 30 members out of a total of 85 liquor sellers.
    For more info check “Last Drinks in Byron” or “Byron Bay Liquor Accord” on the web.

  3. hear ye, hear ye, hear ye nothing further to be said……thank you jannet…..a voice of good reason and basic common sense!

  4. So the problem remains

    Those who believe that one less violent New Years Eve and a small reduction in alcohol related incidents has fixed the problem need to think again
    Being 5th worst in a State with 154 local government areas is not acceptable to the community
    The problem is fixable. There is a solution. This has been proven by initiatives in Sydney recently and Newcastle
    violence goes down by 20% for each hour venues close earlier
    Closing venues at 01.00 would reduce the problem by 40%, and this would be further increased by reducing the incentive for Gold Coast on a outlying drinkers coming to Byron to drink

    There is good news. Underage drinking has dropped. in 2001, 67% of teenagers aged 14-18 stated they had drunk alcohol in the previous year. In 2010, 50% had drunk alcohol in the previous year. Also, the amount of alcohol drunk per person in Australia is the lowest in a couple of decades. In the latest figures, Australians drunk 9.88 litres of pure alcohol per person per year, down from 9.98 litres

    The problem is the problem drinkers. Police and Hospital data show increasing arrests for alcohol related problems over the same period as above and more admissions to hospital for alcohol related harm. Byron needs to stop being a venue for those who want to come here to binge drink and cause problems. It is wrong for the town, wrong for the community and wrong for the drinkers and those they harm

  5. Sydney assaults have fallen by 50% with the new decreased service of late night alcohol.

    How many more people need to bashed or raped in Byron Bay before the state government acts here and gives the local people of Byron what they are asking for- a trial of earlier stopping of the late night service of alcohol. It is the only way significant change will occur. Just look at the evidence.

  6. It is now time to enforce mandatory laws that enforce early closing of Liquor sales. This situation has gone beyond tolerance level and the long term effects of alcohol fueled violence are devastating. This issue should not be about politics/profit motive..it is about the fundamental rights of persons living in a civil….I repeat civil society. Time to ACT with sensibility.

  7. Any self regulatory body is just that self regulatory..this is alcohol we are talking about.. the people who sell it regulate it..are you serious? a bit like the police investigating themselves…or churches investigating their priests…. we need a reality check here…I don’t think you can blame the NSW premier this has been going on since forever its only escalating because the tourist population is growing.. I think there are a few ingrained social factors at play here as well as the “blind eye” turning party town attitude of repeated councils and mayors. There is also a lot of money and profit in alcohol unfortunately the cost to the health system the individual victims etc isn’t paid via compensation by the liquor accord,,if the liquor accord were made to contribute to the financial burdens on society we may get a semblance of respectability out of them. Until they are held accountable financially nothing will change.

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