Police have made a last ditch appeal ahead of the weekend for visitors to behave responsibly – as the force reveals it has just had its busiest day for years.

Despite coronavirus restrictions, demand on policing in Dorset is as high now as it was at the same time last year.

Last weekend in particular, when thousands flocked to Dorset beaches and there was a major incident at Durdle Door with three seriously injured, emergency services were 'overwhelmed'.

Chief Constable James Vaughan described it as a 'very difficult situation'.

Visitors have ignored previous warnings to think twice about travelling to Dorset and to go home or elsewhere if a beauty spot is busy.

Dorset Police now says people must take personal responsibility for their own actions and respect social distancing rules as demand on the county’s resources continues to increase.

Police & Crime Commissioner Martyn Underhill urged people thinking of visiting and packing onto rammed beaches to 'search their consciences'.

Visitor numbers could well be down today and tomorrow however as the weather is set to be more unsettled.

Mr Vaughan said: “What we saw at the weekend was a very difficult situation for the county. People have been in lockdown for very many weeks and they understandably wanted to get out and about now the restrictions have been relaxed to enjoy the warm and sunny weather."

He added: “We are doing all we can to keep people safe, but we have few very powers given by us to parliament following the easing of lockdown. We enforce the law and cannot enforce social distancing, which is Government guidance. Personal responsibility is key as we all enjoy these new freedoms.”

Despite the fact the country remains in lockdown and the Government is asking people to stay at home whenever possible, demand on policing in the county is as high now as it was at the same time last year.

Between May 29 and May 31 this year the force received 1,217 emergency 999 calls, 1,520 non-emergency calls and 892 emails. A total of 1,521 incidents were created and 374 crimes were recorded.

During a similar weekend in 2019, May 31 to June 2, Dorset Police received 1,138 emergency 999 calls, 1,705 non-emergency calls and 343 emails. A total of 1,507 incidents were created and 412 crimes were recorded.

Tuesday of this week (June 2) was one of the force’s busiest days in recent years with 419 emergency 999 calls received, compared to 265 on Tuesday, June 4 2019. In total 627 new incidents were created, compared to 458 the previous year.

Mr Vaughan said the Force Command Centre continues to work extremely hard to ensure calls are answered and dealt with swiftly.

Police & Crime Commissioner Martyn Underhill said: “To those thinking about coming here again, squeezing onto overcrowded beaches, or taking part in hazardous activities, I ask you to please search your consciences.

“We cannot afford a repeat of the incidents that happened last weekend. The Covid-19 emergency is far from over and everyone must take responsibility for controlling the spread of the disease. If this irresponsible behaviour continues, sadly it will be people of our county who could pay the price.”