DEDICATED COVID-19 police patrols are now operating across Dorset in a bid to reassure communities and maintain public safety during the pandemic.
Operation Tattoo will see a dedicated COVID-19 car operating across the force, seven days a week to deal with any COVID-19 related issues, provide support to partners and encourage the public to abide by restrictions and legislation.
There will also be extended cover with another unit joining the patrol between 4pm and midnight every day, and further support during the same time at weekends.
The units will have a specific remit to deal with coronavirus-related calls to encourage, educate and engage with the public, with enforcement action taken if COVID-19 restriction breaches take place.
Superintendent Heather Dixey said: “We want the communities of Dorset, Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole to be reassured we are doing everything possible to provide visibility and deal with COVID-19-related calls being made to Dorset Police.
“The last week has seen 164 calls made to our Force Command Centre, an increase on the first week of Tier 4 national restrictions, and more than 20 Fixed Penalty Notices issued for breaches of legislation.
“Operation Tattoo units will continue with a 4Es approach to dealing with COVID-19 issues and we hope the public will respect advice they are given if they are in contravention of legislation which is there to protect them and our communities.
“However, subject to specific exemptions, it is illegal to gather in groups of more than two people or have gatherings of mixed households. If police receive reports of this and need to take enforcement action we can and will to prevent spread of the virus.”
Operation Tattoo will also see police working closely with local authorities to support reports of businesses or licensed premises breaching legislation, and also working with local authority COVID-19 marshals.
COVID-19 marshals in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole will have a radio link to the Op Tattoo units via the CCTV control room in the area.
Superintendent Dixey continued: “We know dealing with these national restrictions is difficult for our communities, but we must all comply with these rules and not step outside of the legislation.
“Our communities have largely been compliant throughout this year, but we must continue to do the right thing and not break the law – potentially putting many lives at risk.
“Our public quite rightly expects steps to be taken to protect them and maintain their safety and if that means taking swift and decisive enforcement action we will.
“My hope is the extra community presence will ensure people are aware of the legislation and what they need to do to protect themselves and their loved ones. This is now and not forever – take the steps to comply now and we are much more likely to see restrictions lifted more quickly.”
Operation Tattoo has been funded by the government’s COVID-19 Surge fund and is scheduled to continue until February 2021.