Devon and Cornwall Police increase patrols as thousands flock to the West Country

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Devon and Cornwall Police say they are prepared for what they predict will be one of their busiest summers ever.

The force says they have identified 18 hotspots for anti-social behaviour and that they will be deploying extra resources into these areas.

The message comes as tens of thousands of tourists head for the South West. The population more than doubles across the region during the summer season, even in normal years.

But with restrictions on travel abroad, far more people than usual are expected to visit places in Devon and Cornwall.

One anti-social danger zone is Exeter Quay, with its busy bars and restaurants. Officers have been repeatedly called to the location both during lockdown and since hospitality has reopened.

Devon and Cornwall Police say extra resources will be focussed on locations like these, which have been chosen based on intelligence.

Chief Superintendent Dan Evans said: "We have seen an increase in anti-social behaviour so far - both youth anti-social behaviour and that associated with the evening/nighttime economy.

"So, we've identified about 18 hotspots around the force, which have been associated with anti-social behaviour previously, based on intelligence.

"As a result of that, we're going to be deploying more resources to these areas and increase functionality, such as CCTV to prevent it in the first place, but also then to help us detect those offences subsequently."

Ch Supt Dan Evans says the force is addressing an increase in anti-social behaviour.

The rising anti-social behaviour comes at a time when the force is already under mounting pressure. Devon and Cornwall Police's control room received more than 24,000 calls or online enquiries in just last week alone.

Officers are also seeking to work with councillors ahead of the summer to manage anti-social behaviour.

Despite not being on the anti-social list, councillors voted to impose an alcohol drinking ban on Exmouth's seafront, on the evening of Tuesday, 27 July. The new ban will come in on Friday, 30 July.

Its hoped the move will repeat scenes such as the two large brawls that broke out at Orcombe Point last year. The alcohol ban also now exists in the town centre where a cafe culture is being promoted instead, with more outdoor seating.

Local politicians are encouraging a cafe culture in Exmouth and hope a booze ban might reduce anti-social behaviour.

Cllr Nick Hookway, a member of East Devon District Council, said: "The people who kicked off last year were very much in the minority.

"When you walk along the seafront you can see thousands upon thousands of people just enjoying themselves, in a very sensible, pleasant way.

"In the strand here... the traders can have their tables on their grass and people can sit out and enjoy the cafe culture -and that's been very successful."

The message from both police and councillors to the visitors coming this year is to enjoy the region, and to do so safely.