A police force which has faced intense scrutiny over its “robust” approach to enforcing pandemic rules has revealed it is preparing for a surge of visitors when lockdown restrictions are eased.

The police and crime commissioner for North Yorkshire issued the warning eight months after the relaxation of the first covid-19 lockdown measures in the UK saw visitors pour into the county, sparking alarm among many communities.

Managers of the county’s two national parks and coastal resorts reported unprecedented numbers of first-time visitors while residents complained about a wave of anti-social behaviour.

Places like Whitby, Scarborough and other coastal resorts – as well as the Moors and Dales – are popular locations for Teessiders to visit.

But commissioner Julia Mulligan told a meeting of the county’s Police, Fire and Crime Panel while the force had issued some 830 fixed penalty notices to those breaching rules between January 6 and February 14, senior officers were now focusing on efforts to manage the post-lockdown reaction.

Hundreds have been handed out to Teessiders and visitors from other areas throughout the pandemic.

She said the vast majority of people breaking rules from outside the county had travelled to Scarborough and Craven – much of which is in the Yorkshire Dales National Park – from West Yorkshire, residents of which had been handed 141 fixed penalty notices.

Mrs Mulligan said the force, which has issued the fifth highest number of tickets in the country, said the county still had “a considerable issue with visitors coming into the county”.

She said the number of people from outside the county had been a large factor in the volume of tickets being issued and police were putting on extra patrols to deal with it.

Mrs Mulligan said reasons given by the visitors ranged from wanting to see family and friends and boredom to travelling for exercise and to see the scenery.

She added: “People are saying they’ve come for a takeaway when they’ve literally driven hundreds of miles for a takeaway they could have had at home.”

The commissioner added another challenge was with “lockdown fatigue”, with rising numbers of residents breaching the rules by holding parties at weekends.

She said: “The combination of lockdown fatigue and the relaxation of the rules and the warming of the weather means we could face a considerable influx of visitors over the coming weeks.

“That’s something the police are thinking very carefully about. It really will test the will of the public to maintain the adherence to the current restrictions.”

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