News, Culture & Society

Manhunt for missing terror suspect sparked TEN HOUR Dover queues

A huge manhunt for a terror suspect who removed his ankle tag and vanished was the reason police shut down the Port of Dover yesterday and searched every vehicle in case he was trying to flee Britain.

Huge 10-hour tailbacks were caused and frustrations grew as officers carried out in-depth searches for the suspect.

It wasn’t until the man – who cannot be named for legal reasons – handed himself back in to police that the emergency was stood down.  

Officers from the Metropolitan Police and Kent Police searched all vehicles and passengers entering the major shipping hub as part of what they termed a ‘sensitive’ counter-terrorism operation yesterday morning.  

Scotland Yard confirmed that a request was made yesterday by Counter Terrorism Policing nationally for ‘enhanced security checks to be carried out at UK ports’, in relation to ‘ongoing operational activity’. 

Last night The Sun reported the alert was because a suspect subject to a Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measure had vanished.

Onlookers watched in confusion as a convoy of flashing police vans swept into the terminal.

The operation led to severe gridlock at the Port and at the Channel Tunnel in Folkestone, forcing the coast-bound M20 between Junctions 8 and 9 to be turned into a lorry park for freight vehicles. 

Natalie Elphicke, MP for Dover & Deal, told MailOnline: ‘The Home Office must take any steps necessary to keep the country safe. But that shouldn’t result in Dover reaching gridlock when there are traffic issues at the Port.

Thousands of furious motorists are facing 10-hour delays and nine-mile queues as police conduct sweeping spot checks in a major security operation at the Port of Dover – but refuse to reveal why 

‘There are many traffic management schemes in place to Keep Dover Clear. They didn’t work this time and I am working with the various bodies involved to learn lessons and put it right.’

Locals complained of traffic chaos and wailing police sirens as lorries cut through small villages to escape the traffic chaos, with motorists reporting nine-mile queues and 10-hour delays.  

After their sweeping checks began to cause a backlog of traffic, police implemented Operation Stack – used to inhibit the flow of traffic to the Channel Tunnel and the Port – at 11am. It was stood down just an hour later, but queues took hours to clear.

A spokesman for the Met Police’s Counter Terrorism Policing said no arrests had been made at the port and said: ‘We can confirm that a request was made on 15 September by Counter Terrorism Policing nationally for enhanced security checks to be carried out at UK ports. 

‘This was in relation to ongoing operational activity and this requirement has since been stood down. We would like to reassure the public that there is no threat to public safety in relation to this activity and thank all those affected for their cooperation and understanding.’  

A spokesman for Kent Police added: ‘A policing operation involving vehicle and passenger checks at Kent ports has been stood down. Border control checks are now returning to normality.’

‘The policing operation has now been stood down and border control checks are returning to normality.’ 

A source told The Sun: ‘Fortunately, he was on the run for a short period and there was no danger to the public.

‘When someone on a TPim absconds, an all-ports alert is automatically triggered. These are tough measures imposed for a reason.’ 

Thousands of furious motorists are facing 10-hour delays and nine-mile queues as police conduct sweeping spot checks in a major security operation at the Port of Dover - but refuse to reveal why

Thousands of furious motorists are facing 10-hour delays and nine-mile queues as police conduct sweeping spot checks in a major security operation at the Port of Dover – but refuse to reveal why 

Thousands of furious motorists are facing 10-hour delays and nine-mile queues as police conduct sweeping spot checks in a major security operation at the Port of Dover - but refuse to reveal why

Thousands of furious motorists are facing 10-hour delays and nine-mile queues as police conduct sweeping spot checks in a major security operation at the Port of Dover – but refuse to reveal why 

Thousands of furious motorists are facing 10-hour delays and nine-mile queues as police conduct sweeping spot checks in a major security operation at the Port of Dover - but refuse to reveal why

Thousands of furious motorists are facing 10-hour delays and nine-mile queues as police conduct sweeping spot checks in a major security operation at the Port of Dover – but refuse to reveal why 

Thousands of furious motorists are facing 10-hour delays and nine-mile queues as police conduct sweeping spot checks in a major security operation at the Port of Dover - but refuse to reveal why

Thousands of furious motorists are facing 10-hour delays and nine-mile queues as police conduct sweeping spot checks in a major security operation at the Port of Dover – but refuse to reveal why 

Thousands of furious motorists are facing 10-hour delays and nine-mile queues as police conduct sweeping spot checks in a major security operation at the Port of Dover - but refuse to reveal why

Thousands of furious motorists are facing 10-hour delays and nine-mile queues as police conduct sweeping spot checks in a major security operation at the Port of Dover – but refuse to reveal why 

Thousands of furious motorists are facing 10-hour delays and nine-mile queues as police conduct sweeping spot checks in a major security operation at the Port of Dover - but refuse to reveal why

Thousands of furious motorists are facing 10-hour delays and nine-mile queues as police conduct sweeping spot checks in a major security operation at the Port of Dover – but refuse to reveal why 

Thousands of furious motorists are facing 10-hour delays and nine-mile queues as police conduct sweeping spot checks in a major security operation at the Port of Dover - but refuse to reveal why

Thousands of furious motorists are facing 10-hour delays and nine-mile queues as police conduct sweeping spot checks in a major security operation at the Port of Dover – but refuse to reveal why 

WHAT IS OPERATION STACK? 

Operation Stack is a procedure used by Kent Police and the Port of Dover to park (or ‘stack’) lorries on the M20 motorway in Kent when services across the English Channel, such as those through the Channel Tunnel or from the Port of Dover, are disrupted.

Operation Stack is managed by Kent Police using powers under the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 and coordinated by a multi-agency group known as Operation Fennel.

According to Damian Green MP, by 2007 the system had been implemented 74 times in the 20 years since it was first introduced. 

Operation Stack is ordinarily implemented whenever there is an urgent need to inhibit the flow of traffic to the Channel Tunnel and the Port of Dover, which handle 90 per cent of freight traffic between the UK and Europe. 

There are officially only 550 parking spaces for HGVs in Kent, so if access to cross-channel services is restricted, congestion would quickly spread across the county.

The most common causes of Operation Stack are severe weather that either cancels or restricts ferry services, industrial action at the French ports of Calais, Dunkirk and Boulogne, and electrical failures in the Channel Tunnel.

In a statement published on its website, the Port of Dover said: ‘Kent Police have been checking all vehicles and passengers since 15 September 2020 as part of a wider operation in Kent and on all short strait routes.

‘Port of Dover received notification that Operation Stack (Stage 1) has been implemented on the M20 between J8 – J9 Coastbound. We are working with our ferry partners to keep the traffic moving and we would like to apologise for any inconvenience caused to our customers and local community.’

Ferry operator P&O Ferries also said: ‘Due to a special operation, the Kent Police are currently checking all freight and tourist vehicles, and therefore the traffic in and around Dover is very heavy and causing extraordinary delays.

They added: ‘At port, the buffer zone is currently full, with Dover TAP in place. Check-in is clear and you will be placed on the first available sailing.’

Increased security was implemented on Tuesday at around 7am, police said. But congestion continued for the rest of the day and through the night into yesterday morning.

Ferry operator DFDS advised customers to ‘allow additional time to complete the check-in process’ and they would be permitted to board the next crossing if they miss their allocated slot due to traffic.

Huge delays built as Dover TAP, a traffic management system which queues freight on the left lane of the A20 to keep local town traffic flowing, was introduced on Tuesday.

Once the A20 is full, lorries are forced to wait between junctions 8 and 9 of the M20 near Ashford.

One lane is closed on the A20 coastbound between B2011 (Court Wood Interchange, Capel Le Ferne) and Dover (Western Heights roundabout, Dover) with congestion to Junction 11 (Hythe) of the M20.

The left hand lane is for lorries only heading to the port. All other traffic should use the right hand lane.

The coastbound carriageway of the M20 is closed and traffic is queueing due to Operation Stack from Junction 8 (A20 Ashford Road for Leeds Castle/Maidstone Services) to Junction (A20 Fougeres Way Ashford). There is congestion to Junction 7 (A249 Detling Hill).

But local resident Kate Leech tweeted: ‘It (Dover Tap) doesn’t work! The whole town is gridlocked as are the surrounding villages with lorries cutting through. Kids can’t even get to school. It’s a disaster.’

Local resident Abi Sale reported hearing ‘a lot of sirens’ just before 11.30am.

She tweeted: ‘Lots of traffic all through the Dover area for two days due to increased security checks @Port_of_Dover and now a lot of sirens. Hope all are OK. Authorities aren’t telling us why at the moment.’

Thousands of furious motorists are facing 10-hour delays and nine-mile queues as police conduct sweeping spot checks in a major security operation at the Port of Dover - but refuse to reveal why

Thousands of furious motorists are facing 10-hour delays and nine-mile queues as police conduct sweeping spot checks in a major security operation at the Port of Dover – but refuse to reveal why

Thousands of furious motorists are facing 10-hour delays and nine-mile queues as police conduct sweeping spot checks in a major security operation at the Port of Dover - but refuse to reveal why

Thousands of furious motorists are facing 10-hour delays and nine-mile queues as police conduct sweeping spot checks in a major security operation at the Port of Dover – but refuse to reveal why 

Thousands of furious motorists are facing 10-hour delays and nine-mile queues as police conduct sweeping spot checks in a major security operation at the Port of Dover - but refuse to reveal why

Thousands of furious motorists are facing 10-hour delays and nine-mile queues as police conduct sweeping spot checks in a major security operation at the Port of Dover – but refuse to reveal why 

Thousands of furious motorists are facing 10-hour delays and nine-mile queues as police conduct sweeping spot checks in a major security operation at the Port of Dover - but refuse to reveal why

Thousands of furious motorists are facing 10-hour delays and nine-mile queues as police conduct sweeping spot checks in a major security operation at the Port of Dover – but refuse to reveal why 

Thousands of furious motorists are facing 10-hour delays and nine-mile queues as police conduct sweeping spot checks in a major security operation at the Port of Dover - but refuse to reveal why

Thousands of furious motorists are facing 10-hour delays and nine-mile queues as police conduct sweeping spot checks in a major security operation at the Port of Dover – but refuse to reveal why 

Thousands of furious motorists are facing 10-hour delays and nine-mile queues as police conduct sweeping spot checks in a major security operation at the Port of Dover - but refuse to reveal why

Thousands of furious motorists are facing 10-hour delays and nine-mile queues as police conduct sweeping spot checks in a major security operation at the Port of Dover – but refuse to reveal why 

One lorry attempting to avoid the gridlock managed to bring down overhead power cables and two large conifers as they navigated the back roads of the village of Shepherdswell near Dover.

UK-based courier service Freight Logistics Solutions said some of their drivers crawling coastbound into Dover were reporting delays of more than 10 hours.

They tweeted: ‘HEADS UP – freight chaos on the roads this morning – huge delays building at Port of Dover and Eurotunnel. Increased security & border checks at the tunnel, traffic scheme Dover TAP has queues of nine miles+ building. We have a few drivers in the Q saying 10 hours delay!’

Operation Stack is due to be superseded by Operation Brock, the Government’s planned traffic management system in Kent for use in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Thousands of furious motorists are facing 10-hour delays and nine-mile queues as police conduct sweeping spot checks in a major security operation at the Port of Dover - but refuse to reveal why

Thousands of furious motorists are facing 10-hour delays and nine-mile queues as police conduct sweeping spot checks in a major security operation at the Port of Dover – but refuse to reveal why 

Thousands of furious motorists are facing 10-hour delays and nine-mile queues as police conduct sweeping spot checks in a major security operation at the Port of Dover - but refuse to reveal why

Thousands of furious motorists are facing 10-hour delays and nine-mile queues as police conduct sweeping spot checks in a major security operation at the Port of Dover – but refuse to reveal why 

Thousands of furious motorists are facing 10-hour delays and nine-mile queues as police conduct sweeping spot checks in a major security operation at the Port of Dover - but refuse to reveal why

Thousands of furious motorists are facing 10-hour delays and nine-mile queues as police conduct sweeping spot checks in a major security operation at the Port of Dover – but refuse to reveal why 

Thousands of furious motorists are facing 10-hour delays and nine-mile queues as police conduct sweeping spot checks in a major security operation at the Port of Dover - but refuse to reveal why

Thousands of furious motorists are facing 10-hour delays and nine-mile queues as police conduct sweeping spot checks in a major security operation at the Port of Dover – but refuse to reveal why 

The Department for Transport (DfT) is now gearing up to reinstall the Operation Brock at the end of the year, ready for the end of the Brexit transition period in December.

However this time there will be one key difference which might give drivers some hope, Kent Online reports.

Instead of the metal barrier, movable concrete blocks will be used. It would mean installation and removal would take ‘several hours’ and would not include ‘a month of overnight closures’.

Highways England plans to put a specialist ‘zipper’ machine in place, meaning the movable barrier could be deployed quickly. The concrete blocks for the barrier will be stored at the side of the hard shoulder until needed.

The Government says this new system will be ready in December 2020 and would ‘significantly reduce the disruption entailed by deployment.’ It also confirmed the measures would be available for long-term traffic management plans and is not just a response to any cross-Channel disruption caused by Brexit.

It added: ‘It will enable about 2,000 HGVs to be held – the same capacity as the previous contraflow.’ 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


Comments are closed.