COWES Police haven’t been overly critical of the visiting school leavers after their first big weekend of ‘Schoolies’ celebrations despite reports of illegal fireworks and damage to a Cowes restaurant.

Local reports of fireworks going off at various locations around town have so far not reached police in the form of complaints, although Acting Senior Sergeant Scott Morrison acknowledged he may have “heard a few pops”.

“Yes, I think I heard a few pops but there were no complaints that required the attendance of police,” Act S/S Morrison said.

“The kids have been generally good and seemed more intent on getting a selfie taken with some of the police officers than causing any trouble.

“But there’s some more kids around now and we have our full contingent of police now, so we’re all set.”

There have however been reports of damage at The Jetty Phillip Island restaurant following an impromptu rave party.

Cowes locals reported quite a lot of fireworks being let off over night on Friday and wondered if police were investigating.

Act S/S Morrison said police were aware of the issue but noted it was a problem that popped up in Cowes at other times during the year as well

Schoolies starts this weekend and traditionally runs from November 27 to December 12.

During a media briefing last week, just as the school leavers started to arrive, police stressed their main role was to ensure there was a safe environment not only for the young visitors but also for the locals.

“Victoria Police understands that 2021 has again been a challenging year for everyone, in particular, our Year 12 students who have been studying remotely and sadly missing out on key milestones in their final year of schooling,” said Acting Senior Sergeant Morrison.

“We know that the majority of school leavers do the right thing however, each year we see a small number involved in dangerous or anti-social behaviour.

“The main priority for police will be ensuring a safe environment for everyone, including school leavers, local residents, and the broader community and we will not tolerate any behaviour that negatively impacts the community.

“Be considerate of others, respectful of the communities you are celebrating in and think about the consequences of your actions.”

He said the Bass Coast was home to some of Victoria’s most beautiful beaches and it was understandable that they’d gravitate to the Island to enjoy all the Bass Coast has to offer, without putting themselves and others at risk.

“As in previous years, local police will have a highly visible presence along our foreshore, proactively patrolling popular locations targeting underage drinking, anti-social and drunken behaviour around licensed venues and accommodation.

“Extra police will be deployed to the Bass Coast during what is expected to be one of the busiest Schoolies Weeks in recent years, with many Victorian school leavers opting to stay in their home state this year.

“For many young drivers, this may be their first time driving both distances and speeds they are unfamiliar with.

“We ask that all drivers have road safety at the front of their minds and drive to the conditions so that everyone can get to their destinations safely.

“We ask that all visitors to the Bass Coast familiarise themselves with the current CHO directions as police will continue to respond to any reports of breaches and will be issuing fines for any obvious, deliberate, and blatant breaches.”

He said police would continue to work closely with partner agencies, the local council, youth support groups including Red Frogs and DanceWize, the community and the school leavers themselves to make sure everyone has an enjoyable and safe time.

Cowes police chat with some of the local school leavers who are joining in the ‘schoolies’ celebrations on Phillip Island.