DORSET Police’s ‘operation tattoo’ is well and truly underway, enabling extra officers to patrol areas highlighted as places where groups congregate.

Officers were in Whitecliff Recreation Ground and Upton Country Park on Friday, engaging with members of the public out getting their daily exercise.

Sergeant Dan Galloway engaged with one couple at Upton Park, asking where they were from and why they were out.

No tickets were issued and the public were adhering to restrictions, however police responded to more than 470 Covid-related incidents last week.

Mr Galloway said: “It’s part of operation tattoo, extra government funding has allowed enhanced policing in Dorset which is dedicated to any incidents and high visibility patrols linked to Covid-19.

“We have dedicated officers and hotspot areas, we have intelligence that shows busy areas.

“But also under the operation we will deal with specific incidents, dedicated to enforce and engage with members of the community, we come out, walk around and try and promote the message of public wellbeing.

“In minor cases we have to go down the route of issuing fixed penalty notices but the majority of people we interact with, and the incidents, are members of the public that are rightfully concerned at gatherings or numbers they have seen in recreational parks like this.”

One Dorset Police officer was recently hospitalised with Covid-19 after policing an anti-lockdown protest in Bournemouth.

“Obviously, there is a heightened risk because we are interacting with the public, but it’s a risk we have to take.” Mr Galloway continued.

“Essentially, the public still need us, they need us to go out there and reassure them which is what we do.

“It’s alarming and it’s concerning [that an officer is in hospital]. We always remain cautious from the very beginning, while all of myself, my team, my colleagues are out we remain cautious, as should everyone.

“The vast majority, all the public we interact with, certainly the residents of Dorset, they’re law-abiding, they’re sticking to the rules and regulations of the guidance.

“We are fortunate to have quite a lot of beauty spots in Dorset, but that in itself attracts quite a lot of visitors when we don’t want visitors. They’re more than welcome to come back when all this is over but just not at the moment.

“Everyone needs to continue doing what they’re doing, remaining indoors as much as they can and only going out for those essential, key reasons.

“Don’t do any unnecessary travel and don’t put yourself and others at risk.”

Linda Lane, 72, out for a walk at the Upton Country Park, said: “It’s really pleasing to see [the officers] because they do help.

“It’s worrying especially for us older ones but they do such a great job.

“I come round here and people are keeping their distance, but it’s really nice to see the officers.”