TEAMS of police officers will be tackling trouble area hotspots across East Lancashire this weekend as pubs and bars look to open for the first time since March.

Revellers have been warned they can expect to face the weight of the law if any situations get out of control, with police bosses stating ‘at best you can expect to be dispersed or sent home – at worst you can expect to be locked up’.

Scores of police officers will be on visible patrol on the streets as the force looks to protect the public - most of whom won’t have been out drinking in several months.

Licensing officers from the council will also be out, prepared to clamp down on any establishments found to be breaching restrictions but also there to support licence holders as they move into the ‘new normal’ for the hospitality industry.

Areas where there has been trouble since lockdown began will be firmly on the radar of patrolling officers, with Superintendent Andrea Barrow of the East Division saying teams will be available for help and support but unafraid to clamp down if needs be.

She said: “We have been reviewing the spots where we have had issues in the past so that we can make sure we have extra patrols in those areas to prevent things from happening.

“We have had a number of instances over the last months where despite the restrictions, people have come to gather in large groups.”

Droves of revellers are expected to return to their locals this weekend, but with several pubs and bars opting to wait to open their doors until once the initial madness is over, there are some concerns the places that do open may soon become overcrowded.

To ensure licence holders are adhering to social distancing guidelines, councils across the county will be deploying officers who will also be on hand to offer support and guidance to managers and landlords.

Supt Barrow said: “We are working with our partners and the licensing departments from the councils to support the licensed premises and to make sure that people are doing what they should be doing within those establishments - that is for the council to deal with.

“Our job is around disorder and making sure that people are safe when they are out and about.”

Supt Barrow added: “It will be different in terms of what people can and can’t do inside the pubs and this weekend will be the first time people will see that.

“It’s going to be a new experience for everyone and it’s very much about people having a little tolerance towards others and making sure they keep themselves safe."