TWO people have been arrested on suspicion of breaching coronavirus rules during an anti-lockdown protest in Bournemouth town centre.

Hundreds of people took part in the illegal march despite rules banning gatherings of more than two people.

Dorset Police had been made aware in advance of plans for protest activity in Bournemouth today and officers made repeated attempts to engage with the organisers and discourage them from holding the event, warning that it would be in breach of the Government’s Tier 4 Covid-19 restrictions.

From around 12.30pm on Saturday, Dorset Police received a number of reports of people gathering in the town centre, with small groups moving around a number of locations.

A large group of around 100 people later gathered in the area of The Square and officers made attempts to engage with those involved to encourage them to disperse.

Hundreds take part in anti-lockdown protest in Bournemouth town centre

The group dispersed at around 2.45pm.

The two men who were arrested are currently helping police with their inquiries.

Assistant Chief Constable Mark Callaghan, of Dorset Police, said: “Our officers responded to a fast-moving situation and our main focus at all times was to ensure the safety of the wider public.

“We made repeated efforts to engage with those planning to protest and remind them of the Government legislation, which makes it unlawful for gatherings of more than two people.

“While we will always use the approach of engaging, explaining and encouraging members of the public to comply with the requirements, we have been clear that where we see blatant and persistent breaches we will take enforcement action.

“We must ensure that the law applies equally to everyone. We owe it to the vast majority of our communities who are complying with the regulations and doing their bit to limit the infection rate to take action against those who are reported to be ignoring the restrictions and encouraging others to do so.”

The protesters marched through the Lower Gardens to Pier Approach.