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Byron Shire
April 16, 2021

Revealed: the north coast’s biggest crime hotspots

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Chris Dobney

Claims that the Byron Bay Liquor Accord has seen a dramatic drop in street violence might need to be reconsidered in the light of disturbing statistics released yesterday.

When the accord was introduced in 2013 it was claimed it would see a dramatic drop in street crime, especially alcohol-related assaults in the street at night.

But the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Reserarch (BOCSAR) figures for the 12 months to June 30 2015 show that non-domestic assaults were still double the state average.

While assaults did drop from a high of 314 in the Byron LGA for the same period last year, they remained at 260.

By comparison, Ballina had 138 assaults (.08 times the state average); Lismore 293 (1.6); Richmond 126 (1.3) and Tweed 300 (0.8).

Figures for another typical late-night street crime, stealing from a person, are even worse, with Byron LGA clocking 2.5 times the state average, 63 incidents in total (an increase of 11 from the previous year).

All other regions saw a slight drop in this offence, except Richmond Valley, which saw a massive rise from 12 to 83, although this still only represents .08 of the state average per head of population.

Councillors there will no doubt be hoping the recent installation of CCTV cameras will be worthwhile, as they only came online towards the end of the survey period.

Sexual assault saw an even worse result for Byron, with a greater than 50 per cent increase in cases, from 20 last year to 31 this year.

Apart from Tweed, all LGAs on the northern rivers had higher than state average incidences of sexual assault, with Ballina 1.2 times the state average, Byron 1.6, Lismore 1.8 and Richmond Valley a horrifying 2.1 times the state average.

Break and enters were another area on which Richmond Valley scored badly, at 3.3 times the state average, representing 131 incidents.

Overall the Tweed was the safest shire in the northern rivers, with figures below state average scores for every type of crime except domestic violence and stealing from a motor vehicle – and even these were only marginally above (1.1).

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  1. When will the BBLA, OLGR and Police finally reject the costly and cosy industry preferred measures tried and failed for so long and bight the bullet. Put public safety over that of the club n pub profits. Adopt proven life and cost saving measures that involve the modest reduction in the dangerous oversupply, service and promotion of alcohol and effective RSA enforcement and compliance.

    I understand Newcastle has achieved a 140% increase in smaller and safer licensed premises since 2008, coupled with many more job opportunities. It is also estimated that such measures have prevented more than 5000 young people from being assaulted with assaults at all time low levels.

    The Byron late trading premises have been for too long, sucking on the sauce bottle at the behest of OLGR. Please move aside and trial the enforceable Newcastle type conditions primarily, a reduction in the current 3am closing times, before the stupid season kicks in with full effect.

    How many more lives have to be put at risk in Byron before we see some evidence based decisive action by the NSW LNP government and Authorities?

  2. Obviously no real research went into this article! For starters, the Byron Bay Liquor Accord has been around a lot longer than since just 2013 (I know, because I have been a Community Rep on the Accord since 2009!) and have been working on the problems here, for years and years. Many of the crime rates have actually gone down over the last few years, since measures were introduced similar to those in Kings Cross and Newcastle (this is obviously what the Byron Shire Echo has mistakenly mis-mentioned, as it was 2013 that these measures were introduced, not the Accord itself), but of course these measures are ONLY for the accord members!! What about all of those who have liquor licenses who aren’t members of the accord? If ALL licensed establishments in Byron actually did the right thing and became members, then maybe they would have some more funds to be able to put into initiatives that could help the problems. What about the tourism industry? The alcohol issue is more with the tourism populations here, than the locals anyway! So, blame it all on the Liquor Accord? Surely there must be a correlation between the over-saturation of tourism numbers here, to the local population and the fact that they ALL come here to party! Byron Bay has ranked No 1 in all of NSW for more years than it hasn’t over the last 15 years for DUI’s, but many of those are actually coming from the restaurants too, most of whom aren’t members of the accord either! It has a lot less to do with the accord, than with the attitudes to alcohol here, the party-town reputation and the fact that there is so little, other than the accord, to work on these problems. This is why I started the BUDDI Community Drug Action Team all those years ago now, to deal with the issues that alcohol causes, as well as the night-time teen programs at the YAC – ‘Friday Nights @ the YAC’, followed by the YACROCKCAFE and the Byron Schoolies Safety Response and the Byron Schoolies HUB, because alcohol is a MASSIVE problem here, not just with our locals though, or our teens, but with the VISITORS who treat this place like it’s a toilet, only any good for vomiting and pissing on! Much of the alcohol problems happen to be pre-loading too, long before anyone goes into any venues in town, they are pissed before they even head out. Sorry, but this is where I stick up for the local Liquor Accord, because I know that all of those licensed businesses in Byron, who refuse to become members of the Liquor Accord, because it is not mandatory, are the ones who should be being held accountable, NOT those who actually are members, and pay their memberships annually and attend regular meetings and work on the issues with what little funds those memberships bring in. Want to blame someone for the alcohol problems in Byron? Then look at those cafes and restaurants who behave more like bars and niteclubs, pay more attention to advertising their ‘happy hours’ and ‘cocktails specials’ than to actually promoting the food that they sell!! Now, there’s a REAL story!!


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