Police bracing for huge wave of visitors to Devon

PUBLISHED: 12:48 02 July 2020 | UPDATED: 15:10 03 July 2020

Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer has urged people to respect the area when they visit after lockdown restrictions ease on Saturday, July 4.

Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer has urged people to respect the area when they visit after lockdown restrictions ease on Saturday, July 4.

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Police are bracing for a huge influx of visitors to Devon this weekend and have urged people coming here to respect the area.

Exmouth seafront was the scene of drunken disorder, which police hope to avoid after 'Super Saturday'. (Illustration only). Picture: Terry IfeExmouth seafront was the scene of drunken disorder, which police hope to avoid after 'Super Saturday'. (Illustration only). Picture: Terry Ife

Lockdown eases from July 4 for what is becoming known as ‘Super Saturday’ as holiday accommodation, pubs and restaurants reopen.

Devon and Cornwall Police says it has been preparing for the wave following reports of a surge in bookings across hotels, bed and breakfasts and camp sites.

But people coming here have been warned they needed to stay safe, follow the rules and respect the communities they were visiting.

Police say they expect the demand on all the emergency services will increase from this weekend and for the rest of the summer, as Devon and Cornwall see a tourism surge second only to London and incidents rise by a fifth.

There have been recent shocking scenes of fights, drinking and anti-social behaviour on Exmouth seafront and Plymouth Barbican as people enjoyed the short heatwave last week.

Extra patrols are planned but incidents will be prioritised according to their threat, risk and harm, so police have said less urgent incidents are likely to have a longer response time.

Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer has urged people, whether local or visitors, to be ‘respectful’ as they enjoy the easing of lockdown.

He said: “If you are coming to Devon, Cornwall, Torbay, Plymouth or the Isles of Scilly, we welcome you as a responsible citizen, but please be aware Covid has not gone away.

“Social distancing still needs to be observed and everyone must play there part to prevent the virus spreading and not bring more misery upon our communities.

“Play your part and behave in a way that respects our communities, supports the local economy, but ultimately keep yourself and others safe.”

He said: “I know that our world class tourism and hospitality industry has been decimated by the Covid pandemic and there is a desperate need to welcome tourists back to our peninsula and islands.

“But this needs to be done safely and appreciating the fears our resident communities may have with many thousands of people coming back to our region – with the health concerns this may bring.

“We follow Government advice and guidance as to what is safe, but we would ask all people – whether you are a visitor, resident or business - to be respectful and begin to enjoy parts of life none of us has experienced since the end of March.”

He warned those enjoying a drink this weekend that police would take ‘proactive action’ against any boozy public disorder.

He said: “Our licensed and hospitality industry will re-open on Saturday, but it will be a very different experience for those going to a pub or restaurant.

“We want people to enjoy that experience, but we cannot tolerate scenes like we have witnessed in Exmouth and on Plymouth’s Barbican in the last week.

“All people have a duty to drink responsibly, adhere to social distancing and not fight or commit criminal damage simply because we are coming out of lockdown.”

And he also urged people to drive and park considerately on the road network.

Following scenes of litter strewn beaches and beauty spots around the UK, the chief constable urged anyone visiting Devon and Cornwall to respect the environment and take their litter home.


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