POLICE were granted special powers after "selfish morons" flouting new coronavirus restrictions caused two nights of trouble in a New Forest town.

In one of several incidents a man was assaulted by a group of people who punched him to the ground, resulting in the casualty receiving several facial injuries.

Elsewhere people in New Milton Conservative Club say they were warned about a "fracas" outside.

Police were granted a Dispersal Order, giving them the power to move large groups of people away from the area they were in.

Writing on social media a Police Community Support Officer said they and a colleague were on patrol on Friday night when they encountered "something I have not seen for many years in New Milton.

"Hostility and an open disregard for order in a time when all of us are having to sacrifice so much during this very difficult transition that many of us have had to adhere to.

"I am of course referring to a small minority of teenagers and adults who believe 'they do not have to abide by the laws set out by our government and local authorities'."

Urging people to obey the law the officer added: "You will wear a mask when entering indoor premises (unless exempt) and that includes off-licences and convenient stores.

"This is mandatory and is punishable by way of a £200 fine.

"On Saturday and following a nasty assault on a male in the town, in which he was punched to the ground and sustained several facial injuries, what followed was a repeat performance of Friday only this time a Section 35 Dispersal Notice was authorised giving officers the power to move large groups away from the area and I have to say this worked.

"For those of you who suffered alarm and distress as a result of this behaviour I will apologise on behalf of those responsible. These people are selfish morons putting others at risk and will be dealt with robustly.

"Tonight Sunday the Section 35 Dispersal Order is still in place and will be used if this is encountered again."

One of the comments posted on social media adds: "It’s so sad to see that a minority of people think they are above the law believe they don’t have to abide by the rules and guidelines put in to keep themselves and others safe."

A police spokesman said: "We were called to reports of an altercation and anti-social behaviour on Saturday 26 September at 5.53pm on Station Road, New Milton.

"Following an assault, a 29-year-old man was taken to Southampton General Hospital after suffering minor facial injuries.

"A 16-year-old boy from Bournemouth was arrested on suspicion of assault and released under investigation pending further enquiries.

"A dispersal order was also put in place in the surrounding areas of Station Road – from Saturday evening until 7am this morning (28 September) – giving police officers the powers to disperse groups of people out of those areas in relation to the associated anti-social behaviour caused by the incident."