Police have expressed concern about beach safety at a known sex pest area as peak tourism season approaches.
Tyagarah is a clothing-optional beach, and its surrounds, which includes the tea tree lakes, are a known problem spot for sex pests. Tyagarah residents around Greys Lane are maintaining their calls for the clothes-optional status of the beach to be removed.
Regarding Council’s recently adopted plans for closed circuit cameras, Detective Inspector Matt Kehoe told The Echo, ‘CCTV will have some deterrent effects, but will be resource intensive if Council or police are required to review the footage to identify possible offences or offenders.’
Detective Inspector Kehoe says, ‘We’re obviously still concerned that these matters are being reported to us and there is a significant amount of underreporting from both locals, and I suspect, from visitors’.
‘Our present focus is a drain on our existing resources,’ added Detective Inspector Kehoe.
Tyagarah residents said in a press release that at a meeting on November 15, ‘Police made it clear to Byron Shire councillors that the proposed CCTV cameras in the car park at Tyagarah Beach would have a minimal effect.’
Tyagarah Community Association member Richard Burford said, ‘They said they would be a minor deterrent at best.’
‘Issues include vandalism, perpetrators avoiding the cameras by going as far as the tea tree lakes only and accessing the beach from Sunrise.’
‘Because sex pests are part and parcel of “naturism,” isolated Tyagarah Beach can never be safe while it remains clothing-optional. Until this is changed, the beach will remain the unpredictable website driven sex destination it is today.
‘The strength of the bullying, ridicule and denial toward victims is the reason most women are afraid to come forward and talk, both privately and publicly, about sexual harassment. Nearly all Tyagarah residents have stories of obscene behaviour directed toward them at and around Tyagarah Beach.
‘We thank mayor Simon Richardson and councillors Paul Spooner, Jan Hackett and Michael Lyon for their leadership providing public safety.’
Residents of Tyagarah welcomed the statement from Labour candidate for Ballina, Asren Pugh, which read, ‘The safety of the beach users at Tyagarah must come first. The beach has become unsafe for visitors and for local residents and so the clothing-optional area should be closed.
‘I am calling on council to do the right thing. The decision on clothes optional beaches should normally stay with council, but they need to act responsibly and ensure the safety of beach users.
‘If Council fails to act for public safety, then a Labor government will.’
‘I have met with local residents and share their concerns that the beach is currently unsafe. Local families, women, children and the public are not, and do not feel, safe using Tyagarah Beach. The submissions of local police reinforces this position. It is only with great reluctance that that I support the intervention of the state government, but because of councils failure to act it has now come to that.’
‘We also welcome the statement from Greens Member for Ballina Tamara Smith MP:
‘I have many concerns about what has become of Tyagarah Beach in the last few years. It is simply no longer a place for locals and mellow visitors to enjoy a nude swim and sunbake.
‘The police reports and advice to me over some time is that the beach has become a hot spot for sexual assaults and sexual harassment. The remoteness of the beach has only intensified this. I have met with residents and members of the Safe Beaches Committee and I commend them on their positive approach to finding a win-win solution.
‘I know that nobody supports the idea of promoting a culture of sexual assault at one of our beaches under the cloak of naturalism.’