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The West Australian
By Ben Harvey and Eloise Dortch, November 11 2002

Watch for drink spike, police warn

POLICE are bracing for a rash of drink spikings during school leavers' week, with officers warning at least one girl is sexually assaulted each year during post-exam celebrations.

The officers in charge of Rottnest and Dunsborough police stations have laid down the law for school leavers and appealed for self-respect and respect for other holidaymakers.

They said teenage girls needed to be particularly careful of male 18 to 25-year-old predators who could spike drinks to get girls to comply with them.

South-West Supt John Watson suspected many of the 5000 people expected in the region were more likely to be hangers-on or predators than leavers.

Undercover officers, sniffer dogs, mounted police, airborne police, roadblocks and random breath tests were among measures police would use - as much to catch older offenders hoping to prey on leavers as to stop leavers acting unlawfully. In the past, two 16-year-olds had been raped.

"Police have been concerned about drink spiking," Supt Watson said. "It has been evident in Bunbury. The advice is look after your drink like you would your wallet - if you do that you are going to be safe."

Rottnest Sgt Peter Scott said he expected 3000 leavers from Friday. "We have been working very closely with the Rottnest Island Authority and Rottnest community to make sure it is safe and to make sure the kids have fun," Sgt Scott said. "If you do damage to property or the environment or engage in any antisocial behaviour, then we will come down hard."

About 20 police would be backed by rangers. Violent outbursts such as those on the Gold Coast would not be tolerated. As usual, the WA AIDS Council and government drug arms would staff a "chill-out" tent.

Sgt Gary Lewis, of Dunsborough, said he expected 1200 leavers to hit the small town and another 400 teenagers were due at Canal Rocks.

The parents of anybody misbehaving would be called at any hour of the day, he said. Also, parent volunteers would walk the streets in groups of four.

"We are more worried about the 18 to 25-year-olds who prey on the young ladies," Sgt Lewis said. "Nearly every schoolies, at least one girl around the State gets indecently assaulted."

Police would randomly search vehicles at roadblocks and confiscate alcohol if the occupants were underage.

Supt Watson said 800 people had booked accommodation at both Dunsborough and Yallingup. More were expected at Prevelly and Augusta.

Sgt Lewis said P-plate drivers needed to be particularly careful, saying that for many it would be their first long drive. Police would try to weed out troublemakers by making sure people with accommodation at Rottnest and Dunsborough wore an identification wristband.




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