BANK holiday weekend visitors have been urged to plan ahead and “respect communities” by a senior police officer.
Dorset Police Assistant Chief Constable Sam de Reya made the plea ahead of what will be a very busy three days, with tourism bosses predicting the region is already at full capacity.
“The public must help themselves by observing Covid-19 safety measures and behaving respectfully,” Ms de Reya said, and that recent demand on emergency services had been “enormous”.
She acknowledged the bank holiday was an opportunity for the tourism economy to make up for lost revenue. But she said there would likely be delays on Dorset’s main road networks on Friday and Sunday as visitors entered and left, and beach trips would have to be planned.
“If you travel without booking accommodation first you may struggle to find any in the region when you arrive,” she warned.
“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.”
Figures for August showed there were 2,683 emergency 999 calls to Dorset Police in the week up to Sunday 23rd, up 6% on the previous record period in 2019.
While overall recorded crime for July and August in Dorset remained 4% down, there has been a 15% increase in public order incidents and a “substantial” rise in anti-social behaviour (ASB).
There has been a 63% increase (566) in environmental ASB, which includes fly-tipping and wild camping, and a 22% rise in nuisance ASB reports which have taken up 1,818 hours of police time. Personal ASB incidents – often drink related – amount to 447 reports, up nearly 4%.
Calling the levels “entirely unacceptable”, Ms de Reya added: “Drink related issues have been particularly prevalent and I would ask our resident communities and visitors to know their limits and act responsibly.”
Frontline police and staff were doing their bit, she said, adding: “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.”