A 200-strong gathering of youths drinking and fighting on Exmouth beach has prompted a police vow to ‘do whatever is necessary’ to protect the community from crime and disorder.
The message comes from Chief Superintendent Matt Lawler after it was revealed officers had to break up and disperse a mass brawl at Orcombe Point on Wednesday evening, June 24.
Some 200 young people gathered on the sand to party and drink, and a fight broke out, causing police to impose a dispersal order to gain control.
Ch. Supt Lawler said police would not tolerate a repeat of the youths’ antics on the beach, of mass gathering, drinking, brawling and antisocial behaviour.
He urged people to stick to government guidelines and stop the spread of the coronavirus, adding: “We wholly appreciate many people in our communities have been in lockdown for some time and the chance to meet in larger groups outside in good weather is an opportunity to socialise and enjoy.
“However, the impact on the wider community must be respected and drink related episodes like those at Orcombe Point on Wednesday cannot be repeated.
“While we want people to be able to have a good time and enjoy themselves, drinking to excess and meeting in such large groups is putting themselves and many others at risk.
“While regulations around COVID have been relaxed to an extent, the Government continues to ask all people to respect social distancing and to remember coronavirus remains a serious threat to public health.
“We hope the vast majority of our residents are responsible, but we know some people will drink to excess and become vulnerable to harm or indeed cause harm to others as a result.”
Ch. Supt Lawler added: “Officers took steps last night to disperse crowds at Orcombe Point and will do whatever is necessary to protect all of our communities from crime and disorder.”
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Devon and Cornwall Police said there were a series of drink-related incidents reported in East Devon on Wednesday.
A crowd of around 200 young people gathered at Orcombe Point, Exmouth, to drink and party.
Police said ‘large numbers’ of individuals were drunk and fights broke out as a result.
Officers issued a dispersal order in an effort to restore order to the beach, breaking up the crowd and giving powers to arrest and prosecute those caught repeating the anti-social behaviour.
On the same night, also in Exmouth, a man suffered a head injury and spent the night in hospital after he was attacked with a bottle in what police have called a racially aggravated attack.
The force said there had also been ‘numerous assaults’ police officers reported across Devon and Plymouth.
Ch. Supt Lawler said: “Police officers should not be put at risk simply because people want to drink and let off steam. In a number of cases last night officers have been assaulted because of drunken, anti-social behaviour – that is unacceptable.
“Anti-social and drunken behaviour impacts hugely on a community and the lifting of some COVID measures is not an excuse for violent excess.”