Police have declared a “major incident” in Bournemouth as thousands of sunseekers defied lockdown rules and headed to the beach on the hottest day of the year today.
Bournemouth Christchurch and Poole Council activated a multi-agency response to tackle the crowds, adding that it was “stretched to the absolute hilt” on the second day of a UK-wide heatwave.
Council leader Vikki Slade said: “We are absolutely appalled at the scenes witnessed on our beaches, particularly at Bournemouth and Sandbanks, in the last 24 to 48 hours.”
“The irresponsible behaviour and actions of so many people is just shocking and our services are stretched to the absolute hilt trying to keep everyone safe. We have had no choice now but to declare a major incident and initiate an emergency response.”
Services were described as “completely overstretched” as visitors arrived in large numbers, with the local council issuing a record 558 parking enforcement fines.
Bournemouth council said 33 tonnes of waste were cleaned up along the coastline this morning, in addition to eight tonnes collected between the piers yesterday.
Extra police patrols have been called in, after council members said they faced “widespread abuse and intimidation” as they cleared up piles of rubbish.
Bournemouth East MP Tobias Ellwood said: “It is very sad to see a number of people being selfish and also acting dangerously.”
“I have spoken to the police minister to say be prepared… They are deluged with traffic issues and antisocial behaviour,” he said.
He added the government needed to be “dynamic” in its response to people deluging beaches, otherwise the lockdown would have “been for nothing”.
Dorset Police assistant chief constable Sam de Reya urged the public to “think twice before heading to the area.”
“Clearly we are still in a public health crisis and such a significant volume of people heading to one area places a further strain on emergency services resources,” she said.