Chief constable wants everyone to show consideration
With an influx of visitors expected in Devon as lockdown restrictions ease and the hospitality industry reopens, the chief constable's asking people to come back to the region safely and respect its communities.
Hotels, bed and breakfasts and campsites are reporting a surge in bookings. That, combined with the re-opening of the day and night time economy on Saturday, means people out having a good time. For the police, that can be extra work.
Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer says: “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.”
Devon and Cornwall sees the second highest tourism surge in population, after London, during the summer months with demand on policing up by 20 per cent in terms of emergency and non-emergency calls. Officers, staff and volunteers will be prioritising this increased demand according to threat, risk and harm – some less urgent matters may take longer to attend.
Last month incidents of large gatherings and drink related anti-social behaviour and crime occurred in Exmouth and Exeter. Mr Sawyer says: "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. We will take proactive action against any drink related disorder and would ask people to think seriously about their actions. If you are going to a beach or beauty spot, park considerately and think about the legacy you may leave. We have seen many tonnes of rubbish left on coastline and country parks during the last week which is inexcusable – respect our wonderful region and take your rubbish away.
“I have no doubt we are going to be challenged by the numbers of vehicles on our road network this weekend and during the coming weeks – including abandoned vehicles on our roads. I would ask people drive safely and do not become a fatal or seriously injured statistic on our roads.
“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.”