THE chief constable of Dorset Police described the ‘stay local’ message as “a bit vague” and “difficult to enforce”.

The government has now dropped its ‘stay at home’ message and replaced it with a ‘stay local’ slogan as Covid-19 restrictions were eased on Monday.

And Dorset Police chief constable James Vaughan said the force expects and is prepared for an influx of people this Easter weekend.

“The travel guidance throughout the pandemic, it is slightly vague,” he said.

“The message from government whilst in this phase of the lockdown, it is still broadly to stay local.

“That is the advice, it’s very difficult to enforce because there are no regulations behind it.

“I am not sure the stay local message is going to be very strong.

“We all know, with a bit of good weather this weekend, we are going to have a big influx of visitors.

“We rely on visitors but respect the place and protect the place.

“We don’t want to be picking up 100 tonnes of rubbish, we don’t want Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service putting out forest fires, we don’t want to be towing away vehicles.

“All of these things we saw last summer that led to declaring a major incident.

“We want to get back to preventing crime, bringing offenders to justice, making everywhere safe, rather than fining people for having a barbecue or hugging their mum, we want to come away from that.

Mr Vaughan said the force was not prepared for the behaviour of people last summer but will have extra patrols this time around.

He also said property crime has decreased through lockdown and urged everyone to take care when leaving their house unattended.

“Property crime throughout lockdown has been artificially suppressed,” he continued.

“If you are a thief it is more difficult when people are at home. There’s eyes and ears everywhere.

“As people go back to work, leave their property unoccupied we will see pressure on property crime.

“I ask people to be particularly cautious with their belongings.

“The other thing is there’s been artificial suppression of night time economy related crime. There’s always a few who have had too much to drink.”

Mr Vaughan, speaking of the gradual easing of restrictions, said he still felt house parties were going to be a problem but said it is now time to “loosen up”.

“Enjoy the weather, please do come to Dorset this summer and enjoy this wonderful county,” he said.

“Put please respect the place and help us to protect it.

“House parties are still going to be a problem but it is time to loosen up and allow people to have some fun, spend their money, enjoy the new found freedom.

“Easter is a time of hope, there is good timing around restrictions easing.”