A major incident has been declared after thousands of people flocked to beaches on the south coast of England during this week’s hot weather.
Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole council said services were “completely overstretched” as huge numbers of visitors defied advice to stay away.
Council leader Vikki Slade said: “We are absolutely appalled at the scenes witnessed on our beaches, particularly at Bournemouth and Sandbanks, in the last 24-48 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.”
The council said 558 parking enforcement fines had been issued – the highest on record.
Dorset Police has urged people to stay away from the area.
Assistant Chief Constable Sam de Reya said: “These are unprecedented times and we are urging people to stay away from the area of Bournemouth beach and other Dorset beaches.
“We continue to work very closely with BCP council and other partners to ensure the safety of the public.
“We are also deploying additional resources to provide increased patrols in the vicinity to help tackle any issues of anti-social behaviour and other offences being committed.
“The declaration of a major incident allows us to bring agencies together so we can take actions available to us to safeguard the public as much as possible.
“We are also reliant on people taking personal responsibility and strongly advise members of 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.
“This influx of visitors to our area places a significant increase in demand on our service and we would ask people to please bear with us.
“We would therefore stress again that we are asking people to please stay away from the area.”