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Sex Predator Alert For Byron Beach
Signs warning of sexual predators could be erected at Byron
Bay's beaches in the wake of a string of attacks in the
popular tourist town.
Visitors arriving on buses would also be handed safety
information packages under the plan being considered by
Byron Shire Council.
The shocking rape of an English woman at a popular beach
late last month has led authorities to admit there has been
an alarming increase in sexual assaults in the northern NSW
Mayor Jan Barham and the region's top policeman, Inspector
Owen King, agree Byron Bay is not as safe as it was
two years ago.
They are warning tourists not to sleep on beaches.
The problem is so bad that the council is considering
warning signs for beaches and providing safety
information packages for tourists."I don't think
it's something you can ignore," said Cr Barham. "For
any perceived negative that might come from things such
as warning signs, you can't take that risk. The safety
of a person is paramount."
Last month's early-morning rape at Byron's popular Clarks
Beach prompted the council and police to formulate
the safety plan.
The rape of the 19-year-old took place on the beach
at 6am in front of one of the town's most popular
restaurants, the Beach Cafe. She had slept on the
beach with her partner but when he went to use a
nearby toilet, the attacker struck.
Byron Bay police officer-in-charge Owen King said
there had been almost 100 cases of sexual assault
in the region over the past year.
"We do have concerns," he said. "It's still a safe
town. It's a great town to come to if you want to
enjoy yourself. It's just not as safe as it was two
Most of the victims are female backpackers in their
early 20s, but a small proportion are younger
than 15 - some male - who are attacked when drunk.
"We are particularly concerned about the young
people - I'm talking about 15 and younger," said Bronwen
Myers, executive director of the Richmond
Sexual Assault Service.
Some entertainment venues are responding to the
threat by showing warnings on plasma screens
in the early hours of the morning advising
patrons not to walk the streets alone.
Sunday Mail (10-4-2005)
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