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Kent called in mutual aid to deal with Cross-channel border closure

ACC in charge of operation will chair multi-agency response to potential disruption caused by EU Transition

Kent Police called in mutual aid from several forces including Hampshire, West Mercia and Leicestershire following the closure of the French border causing widespread cross-Channel disruption before Christmas.

The majority of its own officers were placed on extended shifts or picked up extra duties over the Christmas holidays, the force added.

The huge operation involved Kent Police, Highways England, Kent County Council and the Department for Transport under the Kent Resilience Forum (KRF).

Thousands of EU-bound lorries and passenger vehicles were left with nowhere to go during one the busiest times of the year for crossings between northern France and the Port of Dover and Eurotunnel.

As a result the KRF activated a number of contingencies including Operation Stack, Operation Brock and the use of Manston Airfield to cope with the increased demand.

Assistant Chief Constable Claire Nix, who is now chairing the KRF’s planned response to potential disruption in the county as a result of the end of the EU Transition period, said the border closure caused an "unprecedented and unforeseeable level of disruption which affected not just Kent but most of the country, such is the importance of the Short Straits route in terms of goods that enter and leave the UK.”

Approximately 8,400 hot meals were served to stranded drivers, over 25,000 Covid test applications were processed and more than 14,000 HGVs moved during the operation.

Highways England managed to put in place its movable barrier to implement Operation Brock on the M20 within 12 hours – an operation that often requires two consecutive night time closures.

Members of the army brought into Kent to deliver Covid-19 testing to cross-Channel travellers administered over 25,000 tests and a total of 14,659 HGVs were transported across the Channel.

Kent County Council Leader Roger Gough said: "These statistics tell one half of the story and go some way to show the huge logistical challenges that arose during the crisis.”

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