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Operation Vigilant patrols in Weymouth

31 August 2021
Dorset Police's Operation Vigilant initiative, which aims to reduce the risk to vulnerable people enjoying a night out and identify and deter sexual offenders, has had another successful weekend.

The pilot initiative was first launched in Bournemouth town centre and this time plain clothed officers were out on patrol in Weymouth, including the Esplanade, beach and adjacent alleys, on the evening of Saturday 28 August 2021 and were able to call in uniformed colleagues when intervention or assistance was required.

Superintendent Gavin House, of Dorset County LPA, said: “This is the first time we have used this unique policing method in Weymouth, not least the use of covert officers that are intrinsic to Operation Vigilant. It has been successful and we will be doing it again.”

The plain clothed officers on patrol reported that although there were many people out and about, including many for a music festival, all were  generally in good spirits. Several people who were on their own on the beach in a bid to avoid the crowds were pleased with the reassurance that the officers gave them when they were spoken to.

A man who had assaulted someone was arrested by uniformed officers and the woman who was with him who claimed to be his girlfriend, but had actually never met him, was safeguarded.

Working with Special Constables the officers also safeguarded a man who had taken a tumble down some stairs.

Superintendent Gavin House continued: “Our plain clothed officers were able to approach and talk to potentially vulnerable people in a way that perhaps uniformed officers cannot. They met with a lot of positivity about how Dorset Police is keeping people safe in a discreet, but effective manner. Uniformed neighbourhood officers also provided a visible policing presence.

“Our officers have a range of powers available to them to tackle sexually aggressive and intrusive behaviour from dispersal orders to arrest and I would like to reassure our communities that our Operation Vigilant patrols will continue."

Anyone on a night out who is concerned for another member of the public being alone and vulnerable, perhaps being subjected to unwanted attention or inappropriate touching or aggression, should always approach a police officer or member of venue staff to let them know.

Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner David Sidwick said: “The extension of Operation Vigilant into Weymouth, following its successful deployment in Bournemouth, means more people can safely enjoy nights out without having to worry about being on the receiving end of unwanted attention. 

“I hope the news that officers are out and about will deter anyone who thinks they can get away with sexually aggressive or abusive behaviour, and serve as a warning that anyone who acts in that manner may find their night out ending in a police cell.”

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