AGGRESSIVE youths coughed over supermarket shoppers and told them they would give them the coronavirus.

Police were forced to use section 35 dispersal powers to move the group away from Morrisons in Verwood.

And shocked residents have spoken out about groups of youths congregating in Wimborne Square who have been spitting at passers-by and abusing anyone who challenges them.

Now police in Dorset have urged parents to keep their children at home to prevent further incidents.

Speaking of the incident in Verwood, a spokesman for East Dorset Police said: "Disappointed with a small number of youths causing issues in the area over the past few nights.

"We have taken reports of groups of youths coughing at staff and shoppers at Morrisons store and telling people they will give them the coronavirus.

"We are appalled at this very immature behaviour and will be dealing robustly with anyone acting in this way. Section 35 dispersal powers were used on the youths ordering them to leave the area. Parents, please ensure you know where your children are."

A Wimborne resident posted on Facebook: "There are three boys that look about 14-years-old in the Square, spitting on the ground, sitting on a bench together, smoking and taking it in turns on a bike that they keep swerving in front of people.

"A brave man has already asked them to stop but they have laughed in his face and continued spitting at him, "I appreciate that they are not mature enough to understand the seriousness of the situation but please keep your children at home."

In a message sent to all schools, a spokesman for Dorset Police said: "Do you know were your children are? Help the police protect them from risk and harm.

"Following government advice it has never been more vital to know where your children are. By gathering in groups people are putting at risk those most vulnerable in our communities.

"During patrols if officers come across groups we will be giving advice and requesting they disperse to their own homes."