Recent evidence that members of the public are ignoring official advice and putting themselves and others at risk in the battle against coronavirus have led to a plea from Dorset Police: “personal responsibility is key”.
Emergency services across Dorset continue to be stretched by the coronavirus, yet there have been concerns over the number of people not following guidelines that could prevent its spread. The overwhelming crowds of visitors to Dorset’s beaches and the incidents at Durdle Door have made it impossible for many to follow government advice about social distancing.
It’s a worrying trend that stands to impact not only other members of the public but also emergency services, including the police. Tuesday 2 June 2020 was one of Dorset Police’s busiest days in recent history. They received 419 calls through the 999 service – an increase of 154 against the same Tuesday in 2019. They also recorded an increase of 169 in the number of recorded incidents against the previous year.
Chief Constable James Vaughan said: “People have not heeded the warnings we have given about thinking twice before coming to the county or going home if an area looks too busy. This weekend we saw tens of thousands of people flock to our beaches as there is nowhere else to go and our services were simply overwhelmed.
“We are doing all we can to keep people safe, but we have few very powers given by us to parliament following the easing of lockdown. We enforce the law and cannot enforce social distancing, which is Government guidance. Personal responsibility is key as we all enjoy these new freedoms.
“I would like to reassure our communities that we have the resources needed to be able to respond to emergency calls and our Force Command Centre continues to work extremely hard to ensure calls are answered and dealt with swiftly.”
His sentiments were echoed by Police and Crime Commissioner Martyn Underhill, who had a very simple message for those looking to visit the area in the coming weeks, or flout restrictions designed to keep everyone safe: “To those thinking about coming here again, squeezing onto overcrowded beaches, or taking part in hazardous activities, I ask you to please search your consciences.
“We cannot afford a repeat of the incidents that happened last weekend. The COVID-19 emergency is far from over and everyone must take responsibility for controlling the spread of the disease. If this irresponsible behaviour continues, sadly it will be people of our county who could pay the price.”