The recent frightening incident in a Kimberley caravan park in which two young women were viciously attacked by a group of teenagers has raised some uncomfortable questions … such as should grey nomads intervene in such situations.
The women, who were on a gap year between school and university, told the media that despite being surrounded by caravans and it only being shortly after 9pm, no one came to their assistance during the assault.
“We began screaming for help, and then I think we both hit a point where we were screaming and we finally realised no one was coming,” one of the 18-year-old women said. “And that’s when the real fear set in.”
The women eventually escaped their attackers and ran to the nearest caravan at the park in Fitzroy Crossing.
“When we got there an older couple opened the door and the husband stepped out, and the lady said, ‘Come back inside, it’s too dangerous out there’,” one of the women said. “They were too scared themselves, and yet happy to leave two teenage girls out there.”
The two terrified women were left bloodied, bruised and shaken and their car was stolen … but things could obviously have been a lot worse.
So, should grey nomads have done something?
Probably not, according to the West Australian police.
“We ask the public to always consider personal safety above all else,” a police spokesperson told the GNT. “We recommend getting as detailed a description as possible and a direction of travel and relay this information to police as soon as possible … importantly, if people feel their personal safety is at imminent risk, they should always phone 000.”
And the spokesperson warned that while so-called citizen’s arrests are lawful in some circumstances, if all of those required circumstances are not met, the member of the public could find themselves liable to prosecution of a serious offence.
“The law states that the member of the public can detain someone but must arrange for police to attend and deal, or where practical can take the person to the police,” said the spokesperson. “We accept that people sometimes make decisions on the spur of the moment and sometimes the decision to pursue or apprehend a suspect may be the right decision, dependent on the circumstances and their own physical capabilities.”
And the ability to make a difference is a key point.
“Although I would probably be silly enough go out to help, it would be an extremely stupid thing to do under those circumstances,” said grey nomad Tony L. “What are a few unorganised old wrinklies in their pyjamas going to achieve except to get their own head bashed in!”