Police are calling for respect in communities after a series of incidents of drink related disorder reports this week.
One incident at Orcombe Point, Exmouth, saw around 200 young people drinking, and in some cases fighting, with large numbers of individuals drunk.
Police issued a dispersal order in an effort to restore order to the beach on Wednesday evening. In another incident a man suffered a head injury after an apparent assault in Exmouth with numerous assaults on police officers reported across Devon and Plymouth.
In Plymouth, hundreds of people gathered on the Barbican and there was large-scale anti-social behaviour and littering. Police officers were also pelted with coins and other objects while administering first aid to an injured person.
Chief superintendent Matt Lawler said: “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.”
Chief Supt Lawler added: “Police officers should not be put at risk simply because people want to drink and let off steam.
“In a number of cases 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.
“Officer 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.”
Following the problems on Plymouth’s Barbican, superintendent Roy Linden, head of local policing and partnerships in the city, said: “The Barbican is a residential area and anti-social behaviour, including urinating in the street, will not be tolerated and those responsible should expect to be prosecuted.
“Officers being assaulted in the execution of their duties, particularly while administering first aid to someone who is injured is also clearly unacceptable.
“We are reviewing CCTV and speaking to witnesses in order to identify those responsible, and we will actively pursue them through the criminal justice process.
“The waterfront in Plymouth is one of the UK’s most iconic landmarks and we are working closely with our partners, including Plymouth City Council, licensees and local communities to ensure that people can continue to enjoy this incredible area in a safe and responsible way, particularly with further easing of lockdown measures being introduced on July 4.”
Pete Smith, deputy leader of the Plymouth City Council said: “Drinking on the Barbican is a Plymouth tradition. But things are not yet back to normal.
“Many pubs are still closed. Those that are open are only doing take-away. They do not have toilet facilities. Businesses have been doing an amazing job to make sure the right safety measures are in place – it is up to the public to play their part.
“If you are old enough to drink, you are old enough to think about your actions – don’t spoil it for everyone else.”
The council’s licensing team has been liaising with businesses to make sure they understand the measures that need to be taken. To help keep the Barbican cleaner, six toilets opposite the Tourist Information Centre will be open and they will be free, the Elphinstone car park toilets will reopen and will be free and six temporary toilets will be installed on the Hoe next to the cafe.