As temperatures hit the highest recorded so far this year, a major incident was declared as thousands defied government advice and flocked to beaches along the south coast last week.
Beaches at Bournemouth and Sandbanks saw a massive influx of visitors during the heatwave, requiring a multi-agency emergency response to tackle widespread anti-social and illegal behaviour.
Bournemouth, Christchurch, and Poole Council Leader Vikki Slade issued a statement, denouncing “the irresponsible behaviour and actions of so many people… [as]our services are stretched to the absolute hilt trying to keep everyone safe.”
Roads surrounding these areas were heavily congested for hours, with illegal parking and a higher frequency of traffic creating gridlock. 558 parking enforcement fines were issued in this period – the highest on record.
On the morning of the 25th of June alone, 33 tonnes of waste were removed from the coastline.
Additional parking enforcement and refuse crews were brought in to tackle these issues, suffering abuse and harassment from beachgoers. Police patrols have also increased in the area to ensure public safety and the security of refuse crews.
Overnight campers, also prohibited, were evicted.
Multiple anti-social incidents involved excessive alcohol and fighting, and further public health concerns have been raised regarding the intense temperatures and dehydration.
Assistant Chief Constable Sam de Reya spoke on behalf of Dorset police, reiterating the message to stay away from the area, stating that “we are reliant on people taking personal responsibility… [as]clearly we are still in a public health crisis.”
This incident raises concerns, not only for overstretched services and the offences committed, but also for the implications of overcrowding public areas as the country slowly eases out of lockdown. Only time will tell what effect scenes like this will have on infection rates in the coming weeks.
The emphatic message given by both BCP Council and Dorset Police is to stay at home and keep away from beaches.
For more information about public health advice, visit the uk government website.