Volunteers to patrol the beaches offering advice and targeting anti-social behaviour

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beach patrols
Avon Beach will be among those to see patrols

VOLUNTEERS have been invited to patrol the seafront across Christchurch, Bournemouth and Poole under a new initiative.

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BCP Council leader Cllr Vikki Slade announced the new scheme, set to begin tomorrow (Friday), as part of efforts to reduce anti-social behaviour problems, writes Josh Wright of the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

Emails were to be sent out to everyone who signed up to volunteer through the council’s coronavirus Together We Can programme inviting them to take part.

Cllr Slade has called for government support in limiting the number of visitors travelling to Dorset after tens of thousands took advantage of last weekend’s good weather.

Concerns have been raised that the council does not have the workforce to monitor the full 15-mile length of the beach with only 25 staff patrolling compared with the usual amount of about 200.

Cllr Slade and a number of other councillors visited the busiest sections of Bournemouth beach last Sunday to see the issues first-hand.

Speaking during her weekly question-and-answer session last Wednesday, she said her experience showed “there was a role” for volunteer support.

“The reason we went down on Sunday was that we needed to show some solidarity to the amazing staff who are down there on the seafront,” she said.

“Normally we would have a couple of hundred staff mid-summer out there talking to people and making sure they understand the rules, keeping an eye out for lost children and giving people directions.

“At the moment we’ve got about 25. You can’t redeploy instantly so we don’t have pools of hundreds of people.

“We are recruiting and that process is quite far advanced and within a couple of weeks we will have a lot of those people in place.”

She said that from Friday there would be volunteer patrols, supported by the council, “keeping an eye” on sections of the beach.

Volunteers would be recruited from the several thousand people signed up to provide help through the council’s coronavirus response scheme with emails sent out over the coming days.

She said people would work in groups to carry out litterpicking and provide “general advice”, with each team supported by a council supervisor.

Health and safety briefings would be provided as well as advice, including how to avoid “difficult conversations”, but any car parking costs would not be reimbursed.

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