DORSET partner agencies are working together to keep people safe during what is expected to be one of the busiest springs and summers on record.
Dorset Police continues to meet weekly with Dorset Council, Bournemouth, Christchurch & Poole Council, Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service, as well as health colleagues, to plan for the expected influx of visitors during the forthcoming May half term, as well as throughout the summer months.
Step three of the government’s roadmap out of lockdown has seen restaurants and bars welcome customers inside for table service and police have been working closely with the licensing teams at both local authorities to help support businesses and their staff prepare for the return of the night-time economy.
While reported incidents of anti-social behaviour have fallen by 20 per cent over the last four years in Dorset, July and August are traditionally the peak months.
This summer officers from local neighbourhood policing teams will be working alongside community safety accredited officers from the council, COVID marshals and youth workers to carry out high visibility patrols in key hotspot areas to prevent offences from occurring, carry out early intervention work with individuals and their families and provide reassurance to communities.
Lyme Regis Town Council has also employed security guards to patrol the seafront and public gardens at night throughout the spring and summer season for the second year running.
Planning for the demands of the summer has been underway in Dorset Police for a number of months. Officers will be carrying out visible face-to-face engagement, as well as using social media to keep the public informed about what activity is being carried out to keep people safe.
The key emphasis for the force is to carry out engagement with the public during high-visibility patrols and implement early intervention measures to prevent crime and help protect the most vulnerable members of our community.
Officers will be focusing on some key areas including anti-social behaviour, violent crime, road safety, domestic abuse, cyber-crime and sexual offences.
Summer Policing Gold Commander Chief Superintendent Mark Callaghan said: “We are fully expecting demand on our resources this summer to be higher than ever before as a result of the continued easing of lockdown restrictions, the reopening of tourism and the night-time economy coupled with the return of some of the county’s most popular events such as Euros 2020, Rugby 7s and the Bournemouth Air Festival.
“The expected restrictions on international travel will inevitably see people visiting Dorset for a staycation and we are working proactively with our partners to coordinate and strengthen plans to keep both residents and visitors safe.
“We are delighted the county has reopened so we can welcome people back to Dorset, but this cannot be at the expense of people’s health.
We continue to ask people to stick within the COVID-19 restrictions as we ease through the roadmap so that we do not undo the good work that has already been done.
“We understand that some members of our communities may be feeling nervous about the coming summer months and we would like to reassure them that we are stepping up our patrols and we want to hear from them.
If it is not urgent, we would ask people to use our online services first by visiting www.dorset.police.uk/do-it-online.”
All agencies are supporting the ‘Respect, Protect, Enjoy’ campaign, which aims to remind residents and visitors to respect each other, protect Dorset’s environment while enjoying what the county has to offer.
Topics include planning ahead before visiting the county and avoiding having barbecues or camp fires in our forest or heathlands to protect our nature and environment.
Councillor Noc Lacey-Clarke, Dorset Council’s lead member for Environment, Travel and Harbours, said: “We love Dorset and we want visitors to love it and respect it too. Dorset relies on its visitor economy and more than ever our high streets and local businesses need our support, which is why we’re so glad to be able to welcome visitors back this half term.
“We know a small number of visitors to Dorset last summer showed a lack of respect for our beautiful county, so this year, our campaign ‘Promise to Love Dorset’ targets visitors before they arrive here explaining why Dorset is special and asks visitors to respect our environment, take their litter home, take extra care on our country roads and unpredictable coastline and to be considerate of our residents.”
Assistant Chief Fire Officer Andy Cole, of Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service, added: “With the latest easing of COVID-19 restrictions we are expecting more people to visit our beautiful countryside over the half term break. Following the devastating fire at Wareham Forest a year ago we are asking both locals and visitors alike to #BringAPicnicNotABBQ when they enjoy time out and about.
“We have already had a number of heath fires in Dorset since Easter, so we would also ask people to not have campfires and to take care when disposing of cigarettes and matches.
“People staying at home are also asked to stay fire safe, whether they are having a bonfire in the garden or enjoying a barbecue with friends. Please visit our website www.dwfire.org.uk for more advice.”