DORSET Police have reassure the public that they are prepared with extra resources as a surge of visitors to Dorset is expected this weekend as lockdown restrictions ease and the hospitality industry reopens.

Hotels, bed and breakfasts and campsites have experienced a rush of bookings, which coincide with the re-opening of the day and night-time economy on Saturday July 4.

Dorset Police have said that been anticipating the demand and planning extensively with partners throughout the lockdown period for the re-opening of hospitality businesses in the region.

Chief Constable James Vaughan said: “We know our tourism industry has been seriously affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and there is a need to welcome responsible tourists back.

“However, this needs to be done safely while appreciating the fears our resident communities may have with many thousands of people coming back to our region – with the health concerns this may bring.

“We must follow Government advice and guidance as to what is safe, but we would ask all people – whether you are a visitor or a resident – to be respectful and begin to enjoy parts of life none of us have experienced since the end of March.”

Last week saw an estimated 500,000 people come into the Bournemouth and Poole area during one day, with 150,000 descending on Bournemouth seafront – leaving 40 tonnes of rubbish.

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Following the violent scenes seen on Bournemouth beach on Thursday evening where three individuals were injured in a mass brawl, Chief Constable Vaughan have said that they will have the capacity to significantly increase personnel by keep in officers on day shifts and bringing on officers on night shifts early.

He added: “The scenes of last week were extraordinary and of significant concern to myself as a Chief Constable and a resident.

“Everyone, whether you are a visitor or a resident, has a duty to act responsibly and not to become involved in drink related anti-social behaviour or leave your rubbish to litter our beautiful region.

“Just because we are coming out of lockdown it is not an excuse to drink irresponsibly, fight or act in a way likely to bring harm to yourself and others. It will not be tolerated and police will take proactive action to deal with this kind of unacceptable behaviour.”

South coast holiday destinations such as Weymouth and Bournemouth that see some of the largest swells in population will have more officers on patrol with greater visibility throughout the summer period.

In response to the high number of parking enforcement notices handed out, almost 1,500 across Wednesday and Thursday last week, local authorities are currently reviewing their tow away contracts and are looking to fast track that through as quickly as possible.

Chief Constable Vaughan added: “Our licensed industry will re-open on Saturday, but it will be a very different experience for those going to a pub or restaurant.

“You are very likely to have to book your visit and may be restricted to the amount of time you can spend in an establishment. We want people to enjoy that experience, but be patient and prepared to have to plan – a walk-up visit to a pub may not be possible for some weeks.

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Pictures by Katie Mosses 

“If you are going to a beach or beauty spot, think about how you are parking your vehicle and the legacy you may leave. We have seen many tonnes of rubbish left on our coastline and country parks during the last week, which is inexcusable – respect our wonderful region and take your rubbish away.”

Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner Martyn Underhill said: “Everyone knows that irresponsible drinking leads to public disorder, fighting and other forms of anti-social behaviour.

“There is never any excuse for this, and the fact that the Government has chosen to lift restrictions by re-opening pubs and bars does not change that.

“The police are working closely with partners in preparation for Saturday and have resources in place, but it is vital members of the public act responsibly.

“Remember we are still in the middle of a global health emergency, so please don’t do anything that would put additional pressure on our Force or on the local health service.”