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Children and pets at risk from rubbish on beaches

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BEACHES and parks are being tarnished by a rising tide of litter, one consequence of increasing numbers of people flouting social-distancing rules who are causing serious challenges for police officers.

Reports reveal the litter, which includes broken glass, is a threat to children and dogs, with one child having already received hospital treatment.

Groups of Islanders have been taking advantage of the rising warm weather and the easing of lockdown restrictions to congregate outdoors in recent weeks but litter, and a disregard for distancing guidelines, has provoked a backlash on social media.

In response to the problems, States Members yesterday voted in favour of fines of up to £1,000 for any offenders who ‘wilfully’ ignore police instructions to observe two-metre social distancing in public.

And Chief Fire Officer Paul Brown has warned that Islanders failing to clear up after themselves – particularly when using disposable barbecues – could cause wildfires in the dry countryside.

The States of Jersey Police has warned that it may have to close trouble spots in the same way as the coastal area adjacent to Jardins de la Mer in St Helier was cordoned off last week, while honorary police officers are also battling to stop things getting out of hand.

St Brelade has been one of the worst-affected parishes, with Constable Mike Jackson saying parishioners had been alarmed by the way some young people had responded to requests from honoraries.

‘Some of these people consider themselves to be untouchable and have shown absolute disrespect and used disgusting language towards officers,’ he said.

Vandalism at the Havre des Pas Lido. (28470634)

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Broken glass has been a particular danger as a large volume of litter has been left behind. A child needed hospital treatment after suffering a cut foot at Havre des Pas on bank holiday Monday, while a dog narrowly avoided injuries which its owner believes could have been fatal.

Rebecca Hardiman, of Millbrook, said her labrador, Nelson, had picked up some waste in his mouth while walking on the beach, but that she and her husband, Tony Roberts, had managed to retrieve the rubbish, which included a shard of glass.

‘I hate to think what would have happened if we hadn’t got it out of his mouth,’ Ms Hardiman said. She said she had found broken glass on the beach twice in recent days, as well as on a third occasion in Millbrook Park.

Acting Chief Inspector Mark Hafey from the States of Jersey Police said regulations brought in by the government during the coronavirus pandemic were designed to keep Islanders safe, and he hoped that they would be respected.

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‘Disappointingly, we find ourselves dealing with a sizeable minority who are not complying, most of whom sit within the mid-teen to mid-20s age bracket,’ he said.

‘Sadly, it is not just the Covid regulation breaches that will frustrate many but the associated anti-social behaviour, most notably the littering of areas with broken glass and other rubbish that prevents families from using areas that they would otherwise wish to.

‘Enforcing this is challenging but that doesn’t mean that we won’t do so. Closing La Frégate steps was a necessary and proportionate response to a growing issue in that area at the time.

‘We recognise that this can move the issue elsewhere, but some areas are harder to police than others so we take these decisions in full consideration of many factors.

‘We wouldn’t wish to have to make further closures but it remains an option, alongside other enforcement activity.’

Other problems have included vandalism at two sites at Havre des Pas, and a spate of minor fires caused by disposable barbecues being discarded before they had cooled down.

Danny Scaife, chairman of the honorary police chiefs’ committee, said policing was a challenge but that officers would continue to do their best.

‘I hope the public will get the message – the pandemic isn’t over and even if the numbers are low at present, people need to abide by the rules.’

Constable’s Officer Tony Pike was among a group of honoraries seeking to keep order in St Brelade over the long weekend, with issues reported on the beach, in Winston Churchill Park and at Les Quennevais.

‘We were reminding people about the distancing guidelines, and they were moving apart, but then 15 minutes later they were back together,’ he said, adding that further difficulties were caused by inadequate provision of litter bins in some key locations, plus the lack of buses from St Brelade’s Bay during the evening, making it less easy to encourage people to disperse.

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