Nearly 1,500 policemen will be deployed at Kovalam beach on New Year's eve to insulate tourists and families from petty criminals and drunken revellers.

The beach, the time-honoured epicentre of New Year celebrations in the city, will be floodlit and covered by security cameras and plainclothesmen and women.

A senior official said the security, though tight, would be unobtrusive. The police would not be a party spoiler. However, law enforcers would draw a fine line between genuine revelry and drunken and riotous behaviour.

He said plainclothesmen have been ordered to “identify and isolate” those who used the night time celebrations as a pretext to cause nuisance in public, harass women or intrude into the privacy of tourists, particularly foreigners.

The police will open a special control room at the beach. The resort area has been divided into at least seven sectors, each headed by an Assistant Commissioner of Police. An executive magistrate will be present at the spot to give legal sanction to law enforcers to resort to use of force, if found necessary.

The police anti-sabotage squad will “sanitise” the beach prior to New Year's eve. They have asked visitors to avoid taking carry bags to the beach.

The New Year's Day enforcement drive would commence at 9 a.m. on December 31 and conclude the same time next day. The police will also be deployed in strength at Shanghumugham and Veli beaches.

Beach patrol

On Christmas Day, the police will deploy patrol boats off the Kovalam coast to dissuade a section of fishermen from taking foreign and domestic tourists on fishing vessels to the sea.

A senior official said the trend had resulted in several accidents at sea, none of them fatal, in the past two years. He said the police were not taking any such chances this year.

Most of the outboard engine powered fishing vessels lacked life saving equipment and location indicating satellite linked distress beacons.

The police have deployed in strength in the city to provide security to those attending midnight and early morning masses on Christmas.