NSW Police have commended the behaviour of those who joined in Australia Day events and gatherings across Sydney and regional areas, despite some alcohol-related incidents.
A high-visibility and mobile police operation was in place yesterday (Tuesday 26 January 2021) with general duties officers, assisted by specialist police, deployed to ensure a safe and secure environment for the community gathering to mark Australia Day.
During the state-wide operation, 89 people were arrested and charged for a range of offences including affray, drink and drug-driving, drug possession, assault police, domestic violence and breach of bail incidents and malicious damage.
Two people were charged and another nine were issued Penalty Infringement Notices (PINs) for breaches of the Public Health Act.
Operation Commander, Assistant Commissioner Michael Willing, said police were pleased with the overall behaviour of crowds, including the organisers and attendees of the unauthorised protest at The Domain that attracted about 3000 people.
“While there were a number of incidents that police responded to across the state, the majority of people were well-behaved and enjoyed their celebrations safely and responsibly,” Assistant Commissioner Willing said.
“Overall, we were happy with the behaviour of those who participated in the protest and given the heat and the possible risk to traffic and pedestrian flow, we could not have asked for a better outcome.
“We are disappointed about the number of alcohol-fuelled assaults and alcohol-related incidents and remind everyone that alcohol affects your ability to assess risks, make decisions and behave responsibly. Those people charged will now have to deal with the consequences of their actions.”
Minister for Police and Emergency Services, David Elliott, congratulated police and the successful operation that saw everyone have a safe and fun Australia Day.
“At the end of the day, public safety is the primary concern for our frontline workers. It was positive to see police and protest organisers work together to ensure the gathering was a COVID-Safe event and avoid major disruptions,” said Minister Elliott.
The state-wide operation saw police in the air, on our roads, and on the water throughout the day focusing on public safety, alcohol-related crime and anti-social behaviour.
In addition to the five arrests made during the operation for the unauthorised protest in Sydney’s Domain, police also dealt with large crowds, intoxicated people and people not complying with health orders right across the state. Of note:
– About 2.30am, officers attached to Eastern Suburbs Police Area Command attended the Watsons Bay area, where large groups of people were gathering. Police spoke to a man and woman, both aged 22, and were told a ticketed event had been organised at Lady Bay Beach with more than 200 people in attendance. They were both issued a $1000 PIN for fail to comply with noticed direction in relation to section 7/8/9- COVID-19 – Individual.
– Police also responded to concerns of large crowds gathering in breach of public health orders and anti-social behaviour including Island Drive, Tweed Heads, Lilli Pilli Point in Sydney’s south and the Manly area. The crowds dispersed as police arrived, with several people treated by NSW Ambulance Paramedics for intoxication. While no arrests were made, a number of youth cautions will be handed out and inquiries are continuing.
– Across the day, police issued PINs to people not wearing masks, some despite previous warnings. This includes a 21-year-old Penrith man and a 33-year-old Sydney woman at Central Train Station, and a 21-year-old Blackett man at Mt Druitt Train Station, for not wear fitted face covering when at a public transport waiting area. Another two men – a 48-year-old from Sans Souci at Wolli Creek Train Station and 22-year-old from Bow Bowing at Ingleburn Train Station – were issued PINs for not wear fitted face covering when in public etc transport vehicle etc/taxi/rideshare – Individual.
– Officers attached to Lake Illawarra Police District also attended a licensed club on Devon Street, Berkeley, about 11.50am, and spoke to a number of patrons not wearing face masks. Investigations continue.
– About 1.45pm, officers attached to Brisbane Water Police Transport Command attended the bus interchange at Gosford Train Station after reports an intoxicated man spat at a bus driver. Police were told the 24-year-old man was involved in a fight with an unknown man before he attempted to board a bus but was declined entry because he was bleeding. The man allegedly spat in the direction of the bus driver before he was detained. It is alleged the man resisted police, punched himself, headbutted the police vehicle and yelled at officers before spitting at a senior constable. OC spray was deployed and the man was taken to Gosford Police Station, where he was charged with common assault, drink alcohol on bus, ferry, train or in public area, assault police officer in execution of duty without actual bodily harm, and resist or hinder police officer in the execution of duty. The Auburn man is due to appear in Gosford Local Court today (Wednesday 27 January 2021).
– About 4.30pm, officers attached to Manning Great Lakes Police District responded to reports of a brawl at John Holland Park. Police arrived and spoke with a group of youths and issued move-on directions. One boy, aged 14, allegedly hit a constable and senior constable before he was arrested and taken to Forster Police Station and charged with assault police officer in execution of duty and refuse/fail to comply with direction. He is due to appear in a children’s court at a later date.
– Police responded to reports of a brawl at Cronulla’s Gunnamatta Park about 8pm and directed a group of up to 100 intoxicated persons to leave the area. One woman, aged 22, refused to leave and began yelling and swearing at police. As police attempted to arrest her, a second woman, aged 20, approached and pushed a senior constable to the ground. A third woman, aged 26, was also arrested after being spoken to about drinking in an alcohol prohibited area. She allegedly refused to tip out her alcohol before grabbing a constable and pulling her to the ground. All three women were arrested and taken to Sutherland Police Station. The 22-year-old from St Clair was charged with refuse/fail to comply with direction under Part 14, assault officer in execution of duty, and use offensive language in/near public place/school. The 20-year-old, also from St Clair, was charged with assault officer in execution of duty, resist officer in execution of duty, refuse/fail to comply with direction under Part 14 and use offensive language in/near public place/school. The 26-year-old, from Eastern Creek, was charged with assault officer in execution of duty, resist officer in execution of duty, refuse/fail to comply with direction under Part 14, use offensive language in/near public place/school, and fail to comply with terms of notice erected by council. All women were granted conditional bail to appear in Sutherland Local Court on Thursday 11 March 2021.
Marine safety was another focus of the operation, with officers from the Marine Area Command conducting 568 breath tests, 90 drug tests and 587 safety and compliance checks on vessels operating on NSW waterways
Of note, police charged a number of people with operating a vessel under the influence and Botany Bay Water Police are investigating a jet ski collision on the Georges River that left one man, aged 18, with serious leg injuries.