‘Super Saturday’ drinkers heading for Exmouth are being warned by police they will not tolerate a repeat of last week’s anti-social behaviour.
Mobs of youths spat and swore at officers twice last week when hundreds of young people gathered at Orcombe Point over two nights, drinking and fighting – prompting police to impose a dispersal order to gain control.
Devon and Cornwall Police Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer said officers would not put up with repeat scenes witnessed at Exmouth, and warned ‘proactive’ action would be taken against anti-social offenders.
The top cop’s message comes ahead of ‘Super Saturday’ – July 4 – when the UK’s pubs are allowed to reopen to customers for the first time since March’s coronavirus lockdown.
It follows on from the police promising to tackle any further anti-social behaviour at Exmouth with ‘robust’ action, and vowing to do ‘whatever is necessary’ to protect the town from crime and disorder.
Mr Sawyer said police presence would be stepped up across Devon and Cornwall as the region prepared for an ‘influx’ of visitors this weekend, when pubs, campsites, hotels and bed-and-breakfasts all start trading for the first time in three months.
Chief Constable Sawyer added: “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.
“I strongly encourage you to book your visit and you may be restricted to limited time within an establishment.
“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.”
He added: “Social distancing still needs to be observed and everyone must play their 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.”
Mr Sawyer said he appreciated the tourism and hospitality industry had been dealt a hard blow by the COVID-19 pandemic, but said visitors coming into Devon must continue to follow government guidelines and safeguard the region’s residents.
He said opening up Devon and Cornwall to visitors must be done with thought, in a bid to allay any health fears the region may have about welcoming back hundreds of thousands of tourists from across the UK.
Mr Sawyer said: “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.”
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Mass booze-fuelled brawl on Exmouth beach prompts police vow to ‘do whatever is necessary’ to tackle bad behaviour