DEDICATED Covid-19 police patrols are now taking place across the county.

Dorset Police say units will specifically deal with Covid-19 calls, providing support for partners – including BCP Council Covid-19 marshals – and encourage members of the public to abide by the restrictions.

But officers will take enforcement action if Covid-19 breaches take place, senior officers have warned.

The patrols, under the banner of Operation Tattoo, will see a dedicated Covid-19 car operating across the force area, seven days a week.

Dorset Police Superintendent Heather Dixey said: "We know dealing with these national restrictions is difficult for our communities, but we must all comply with these rules and not step outside of the legislation.

"Our communities have largely been compliant throughout this year, but we must continue to do the right thing and not break the law – potentially putting many lives at risk.

"Our public quite rightly expects steps to be taken to protect them and maintain their safety and if that means taking swift and decisive enforcement action we will."

Last week saw 164 calls made to the Dorset Police command centre, an increase on the first week of this second national lockdown.

More than 20 fixed penalty notices were also issued last week.

A quarter of coronavirus fines handed out by Dorset Police went unpaid

Superintendent Dixey said: "We want the communities of Dorset, Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole to be reassured we are doing everything possible to provide visibility and deal with Covid-19-related calls being made to Dorset Police.

"Operation Tattoo units will continue with a four E's approach to dealing with Covid-19 issues and we hope the public will respect advice they are given if they are in contravention of legislation which is there to protect them and our communities."

This four E's phased approach, police say, is to engage, explain, encourage and enforce – in that order with enforcement as a last resort.

The superintendent said: "“My hope is the extra community presence will ensure people are aware of the legislation and what they need to do to protect themselves and their loved ones.

"This is now and not forever – take the steps to comply now and we are much more likely to see restrictions lifted more quickly.”

Operation Tattoo, funded by the government’s Covid-19 Surge fund and scheduled to continue until February 2021, will also see police working closely with local authorities to support reports of businesses or licensed premises breaching legislation, and also working with local authority Covid-19 marshals.

Covid marshals in the BCP Council area will have a radio link to the Operation Tattoo police units.