TOURISTS coming to Dorset are being urged to plan ahead and respect communities across the region as the Bank Holiday weekend gets underway.
Many thousands of visitors, some already in the region, are expected to be residing in the county over the three-day weekend with congested roads and demand on all emergency services resources expected to be high.
Tourism bosses are already predicting the region is at full capacity, so the message to all visitors is book ahead and plan your trip, expect delays on the road network, and when you do come, support and enjoy the local economy, but do it respectfully.
Visitors are also asked plan a trip to the beach in advance and be prepared to move to other venues if they are at capacity.
Latest figures for August 2020 show 999 call demand remains at record levels with 2,683 999 calls received by Dorset Police in the last week (up to Sunday, August 23). This is up six per cent on what was a previous record period in 2019.
Last week also saw 3,665 incidents logged with Dorset Police and 1,305 incidents attended.
Anti-social behaviour up by 63%
While overall recorded crime for July and August 2020 remains about four per cent down, there has been 630 public order incidents reported – an increase of almost 15% – and a substantial increase in reports of anti-social behaviour (ASB).
There has been 566 reports of environmental ASB reported – often rubbish, fly tipping and wild camping – which is up 63% on same period in 2019 and calculated to have taken up 205 hours of police time.
Nuisance ASB has seen 3,760 reports, which is an increase of more than 22 per cent on the same period in 2019 and has taken up 1,818 hours of police time.
Personal ASB, often drink related, has seen 447 reports, up almost four per cent on 2019, and estimated to have taken up 157 hours of police time.
Assistant Chief Constable Sam de Reya said: “We appreciate for much of our tourism economy the Bank Holiday brings the opportunity to try and recover revenue lost during lockdown earlier this year.
“We want to support that, but the public must help themselves by observing COVID-19 safety measures and behaving respectfully.
“Demand on Dorset Police and all emergency services has been enormous during August. We have planned and flexed our resources and I’m extremely proud of the way Dorset Police has responded to this challenge.
“However, the levels of ASB and public order offences are entirely unacceptable and cannot go unchallenged. Drink related issues have been particularly prevalent and I would ask our resident communities and visitors to know their limits and act responsibly.”
Road congestion is likely to be a particular issue across Friday and Saturday and again on Monday as many thousands enter and leave the Dorset, Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole region.
Respecting the coastline also remains critically important after high seas and coastal surges in recent days.
ACC de Reya added: “Planning your journey to Dorset is hugely important. If you travel without booking accommodation first you may struggle to find any in the region when you arrive.
“And driving appropriately and respectfully on our roads protects yourselves and others. Please be patient if you encounter traffic and ensure your vehicle is suitably prepared.
“COVID-19 has not gone away and remains a very real threat in our communities. Face coverings are mandatory on public transport, in takeaways, shops and enclosed public spaces such as museums, galleries and cinemas as well as places of worship.
“We would ask everyone to respect each other and maintain social distancing whenever possible.”
ACC de Reya said: “All frontline officers and staff within Dorset Police are playing their part in helping the economy restart and prosper.
“We would ask the public to help us to help you to stay safe. Play your part and respect and enjoy what Dorset has to offer.”