ARMED police will carry out patrols in Dorset this Christmas.

Officers will visibly carry long-armed weapons as they patrol 'key locations and events' during the festive period and the new year.

Dorset Police bosses say the move will give reassurance and further security to Dorset residents.

Head of alliance specialist operations Superintendent Nikki Leaper said: “Similar to last year, police – including our armed officers – will be patrolling busy festive locations and events to offer a high-visibility level of protection to our public.

“I want to reassure the public that there is no increase in the threat level, nor is there any specific threat within Dorset. However, the festive period leads to significant events and crowded places where this additional level of support could be beneficial to local policing teams across the alliance area.

“Our message to the public is to go about their day as normal, enjoy the festive period and stay safe.

"If anyone sees anything suspicious please tell an officer or official event staff member.

"You can approach any of our officers directly as they are here to protect and serve our communities, or you can contact us on 101. "In the case of an emergency dial 999."