A RINGWOOD woman was arrested when police broke up a lockdown protest outside the Royal Bournemouth Hospital.
The impromptu demonstration was staged outside the facility in Castle Lane East on Saturday after officers prevented a similar organised event at Bournemouth Town Hall that day.
After cordoning an area at the town hall and issuing warning, officers responded to the hospital gathering around 2.15pm and dispersed the group.
The 52-year-old Ringwood woman was one of three arrested on suspicion of breaching coronavirus regulations. She was later released under investigation pending further enquiries, and the other two were de-arrested.
A spokesperson for the Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals Trust said: “As the numbers of Covid infections continue to rise in the community, we urge the public to follow national public guidelines, and whilst we work with our partners to help reduce the spread of this infection, we encourage the public to observe all measures they are asked to.”
On Tuesday Dorset Police said it was “reassuring the public that a full and detailed policing plan is in place to prevent unlawful protests across the county” as more are set to take place this weekend.
Supt Jared Parkin said officers were engaging with organisers to prevent the protests – the first of the continued ‘four Es’ approach of: escalation, followed by explanation and encouragement before enforcement.
“The right to protest is well established in this country and police forces have a long history of upholding this by policing by consent and ensuring the safety of all those exercising that right,” Supt Parkin explained.
“However, in the current lockdown situation government legislation makes it quite clear that gatherings of more than two people are unlawful. This allows the police service to take positive action against those breaching these laws.
“Tragically coronavirus is a deadly disease that has taken the life of more than 50,000 people in the UK and we cannot allow protests to take place and risk increasing the R rate.”
In the Waterside, police emphasised that bubbles of pupils did not apply outside of schools after finding groups of youngsters gathering in breach of the restrictions.
A police Facebook post said: “This means that after leaving the school gates, as soon as reasonably possible, young people are to return home, and stay inside except for the government exemptions.
“Unfortunately this means that they cannot meet up with their friends, in groups bigger than two.”
Parents were again warned they would be liable for fines for any offending children under the age of 18 years old.
Officers pulling over a vehicle in Sizer Way, Dibden, last Friday night fined five men inside for breaching the restriction on gatherings.
They also discovered a small quantity of drugs and seized two catapults from the vehicle.