French blockade of British border over mutant Covid strain that left thousands of HGV drivers stranded and sparked chaos at ports cost Kent Police £1.2m, figures reveal
- Emmanuel Macron ordered closure of the border with the UK on December 20
- Thousands of HGV drivers spent Christmas parked in laybys near Port of Dover
- Freedom of Information request revealed it cost Kent Police total of £1,221,688
The French blockade of the British border following a new strain of Covid which left thousands of HGV drivers stranded cost police a staggering £1.2 million, figures reveal.
French president Emmanuel Macron ordered the closure of the border with the UK on December 20 after details of the Kent strain of coronavirus were revealed.
The French then announced anyone crossing the Channel needed to provide a negative Covid-19 test to prevent the spread of the Kent mutant strain.
Thousands of stranded HGV drivers were forced to spend Christmas 2020 in the cabin while parked up in laybys and lorry parks near the Port of Dover, Kent, leaving the town gridlocked and a motorway turned into lorry park.
A Freedom of Information request revealed the cross-Channel disruption cost Kent Police a staggering total of £1,221,688.23.
This bill consists of £506,845.01 for overtime paid out in overtime and £656,667.59 in mutual aid. £58,175.63 was spent on providing meals, refreshments and other ad hoc costs.
Dover and Deal MP Natalie Elphicke has called for France to ‘pay up’.
Pictured: Police control the movements of vehicles at the entrance to the Port of Dover in Kent amid chaotic scenes on Christmas Eve. Thousands of stranded HGV drivers were forced to spend Christmas 2020 in the cabin while parked up in laybys and lorry parks near the Port of Dover, Kent, leaving the town gridlocked and a motorway turned into lorry park
She said: ‘It’s an outrage that Kent and the UK is expected to foot the bill for policing France’s border chaos.
‘There’s no excuse for France’s unreasonable actions at closing the border, which were rightly criticised by the EU itself and the World Health Organisation.
Dover and Deal MP Natalie Elphicke has called for France to ‘pay up’
‘France should pay up for causing Christmas chaos – and Kent Police deserve a bigger budget to cover continuing French disruption at the border.’
But the overall cost of the operation could be even higher as these are approximate estimates so far – with the true price revealed once all costs have been received from every department which may take months.
And this does not include the independent privately funded Port of Dover police authority who were heavily involved in dealing with the disruption on their doorstep.
Officers from as far as West Mercia, Leicestershire and Hampshire were drafted in to help during the height of the chaos while the majority of officers worked extended shifts and extra duties over the festive period.
A Home Office spokesperson said: ‘We are absolutely committed to ensuring police have the support and resources they need.
‘Where additional costs are incurred from policing unexpected and exceptional events, such as those incurred by Kent police in this instance, police and crime commissioners can apply to the Home Office for special grant funding.’
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