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Force Calls On French For Olympic Help

Officers on attachment from France help police cross-Channel transport networks in Kent

Three French police officers have been on attachment to Kent Police as part of cross-Channel efforts during the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Gendarmerie officer Eric Hingrez was based at the force’s Roads Policing Unit to help patrol the motorway network, Channel port, Channel Tunnel, Ebbsfleet and other locations.

Meanwhile two officers from the Police Nationale, Amina Nichols and Romuald Fleury, worked with English officers to share information and advice with the public as visitor numbers rocketed during the games.

Col Joelle Vachter and Maj David Neto from the Gendarmerie Northern France Command recently visited Kent’s Chief Constable Ian Learmonth to discuss how further to strengthen cross-Channel co-operation – and they identified roads policing as a priority area.

As well as helping to respond to incidents, Officer Hingrez also helped officers communicate with French motorists.

Insp Geoff Wood from Kent Police’s Roads Policing Unit said: “It has been invaluable having Eric with us in Kent. He is an experienced traffic officer and worked closely with my team.

“Fortunately there were no major incidents on the road network in Kent during the Olympics.

“But if there had been, Eric could have helped facilitate policing action in France to match what my officers would have been doing here to alleviate the situation.

“In strategic terms, it is useful to think of the road network in north east France as an extension of our own as the gateway to Europe, and vice-versa. It is that way of thinking that is helping us to develop better ways of working for the benefit of motorists and visitors from both sides of the channel.”

The visit by French officers was timed to coincide with the Olympics to support Kent Police’s operation to tackle the increased demands on the road and rail networks and the increase in tourists staying in Kent.

It is the latest in a series of exchanges which has seen Kent Police officers help their French counterparts and British visitors during the weekend of the Le Mans 24 hours race in June 2012. French officers also made the trip to successful police the Open Golf Championships in Sandwich.

The force is already a member of the wider Cross-Channel Intelligence Community and contributes to regular strategic meetings with senior police chiefs from France, Belgium and the Netherlands.These are designed to share best practice and provide greater resilience in the fight against organised and cross-border crime.

Det Ch Insp Matthew Pringle, from Kent Police’s Frontier Operations Unit said: “We have developed excellent working relationship with our French colleagues and their support is invaluable. We share many similar issues and have a lot to learn from each other.

“During this busy period over the summer it has been extremely useful to have instant access to the French officers 24 hours a day and they have helped us to deal with a number of cross-border issues.

‘It is very useful for us to learn about French protocols and to get help communicating with French speaking visitors, and likewise, we are able to work with French police to support British visitors and the ex-pat community in Pas de Calais region.”

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