Update – Thursday, 25 June
Officers seized music equipment and arrested five people at Formby beach yesterday, Wednesday, 24 June.
At around 1pm, we received a number of reports of youths congregating together on the beach and sand dunes. The majority of people were dispersed by police, with officers remaining in the area to turn away anyone planning to attend.
Five people were arrested for various offences including drunk and disorderly behaviour and possession of drugs, and a speaker and music equipment was seized.
A 48hr Section 34 Dispersal Zone was put in place in response to the incident, which will run until 2:30pm tomorrow, Friday, 26 June.
The order comes under Section 34 of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime & Policing Act 2014, which gives police officers and police community support traffic officers powers to direct people they suspect are causing or likely to cause crime, nuisance or anti-social behaviour to members of the public to leave a designated area for up to 48 hours.
Throughout today and tomorrow, officers will remain at Formby beach, as well as Ainsdale and Crosby beaches, parks and beauty spots including Formby nature reserve, on foot, in vehicles and on quad bikes.
Chief Inspector Andy Rankine said: “We appreciate the fact that people want to go out and take advantage of the weather, but it is so important that you do so safely.
“While we want everyone to enjoy themselves, anti-social behaviour and criminality will not be tolerated and Merseyside Police will take action where necessary, as seen yesterday when five people were arrested after a group decided to congregate and engage in anti-social behaviour to the detriment of other trying to enjoy the good weather and beaches.
“We will remain in the area today and will continue to respond to reports of people forming large gatherings. The virus has by no means gone, so please continue to abide by government guidance to ensure the safety of yourselves and others.”
We can confirm that officers are in attendance on Formby beach this afternoon (Wednesday 24 June) following reports of people gathering.
At around 1pm, we received a number of reports of youths congregating together on the beach and sand dunes.
Officers are in the process of dispersing those attending, and will remain in the area to turn away anyone planning to attend.
Throughout the day and into the evening, officers will be on foot, in vehicles and on quad bikes at Formby as well as Ainsdale and Crosby beaches, parks and beauty spots including Formby nature reserve.
They will be continuing to encourage people to keep to the guidelines, in order to protect themselves and others, and where necessary disperse people and take enforcement action.
The advice remains that everyone should maintain social distancing of two metres at all times and that people should only meet up with a maximum of six people from other households when outdoors.
The further easing of restrictions announced yesterday by the Prime Minister does not come into effect for another 10 days – on 4 July – and there are high visibility patrols on the Sefton coastline this week to remind any visitors of the importance of abiding by the current guidelines.
During previous spells of good weather, we received reports of excessive littering and fires and BBQs being lit as well as people parking illegally and inconsiderately by blocking driveways and residential roads.
A large quantity of alcohol has also been handed into police by people making their way to Formby beach – a Public Spaces Protection Order has been in place since 2018 prohibiting the consumption of alcohol in areas including Formby, Crosby and Ainsdale beaches.
Chief Inspector Andy Rankine said: “I would like to thank the vast majority of people who are adhering to social distancing measures and protecting the wider community from the virus, as well as those keeping an eye out for suspicious behaviour and reporting it to us.
“We will respond to reports of people forming large gatherings, and our significant presence on the Sefton coastline will be on hand to ensure such crowds are dispersed.
“As the Government have stated, it is thanks to those people who are being sensible and abiding by the guidelines that plans have been made to further relax the restrictions in the near future.
“But in order for Merseyside and the rest of the country to return to some state of normality as soon as possible, we need everyone to continue to show the same patience and commitment of the past three months.
“We completely understand how frustrated people have been about having their movement restricted, and not being able to embrace family members or visit restaurants and bars. But the more people respect what they have been asked to do, the sooner all those things will be possible.
“The virus has not gone away; 5,452 people are reported to have contracted coronavirus across Merseyside to date – 974 in Sefton alone – and many of them are still unwell. A total of 1,081 who have tested positive in hospital have sadly died.
“Real concerns remain in Merseyside, and the wider North West, due to the fact that the R rate here is disproportionately higher than other parts of the country.
“The responsibility is on all of us to stop the spread of the virus, to protect those who might be more susceptible to it and by social distancing and avoiding large gatherings, you can ensure you are doing your bit.
“If you are a parent or guardian, please ask where your child is going and who they’re meeting. This pandemic affects us all and it is in your best interest that illegal gatherings are stopped before they are given the chance to materialise.”
Anyone with information on gatherings can speak to local officers, or get in touch via @MerPolCC or Crimestoppers completely anonymously on 0800 555 111.