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'Don't blast fireworks at eco activists - it's illegal', warns cop responsible for Dartford Crossing operation
19 October 2022, 09:42 | Updated: 19 October 2022, 10:19
Furious residents have been told not to blast fireworks at eco-protesters by the top cop in charge of dealing with the Dartford Bridge climbers.
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The Just Stop Oil activists brought traffic to a standstill for more than 24 hours after they scaled high up the bridge and attached themselves up there.
Furious motorists were unable to use the key Queen Elizabeth II bridge and on Monday night fireworks were launched at the demonstrators, who finally surrendered to police on Tuesday.
Essex Police's Chief Inspector Simon Anslow - the gold commander for the incident - told Nick Ferrari at Breakfast on LBC that anyone angry with the disruptive eco-activists should leave the matter to the police.
"It doesn't help in any way, shape or form – it's dangerous, it's a criminal offence and people should leave it in our hands to resolve it and trust us that we are working to keep them safe and resolve it as soon as they can."
His force was criticised for the speed of the response but the chief inspector said he was satisfied with how long it took.
Essex Police Chief: Don't shoot fireworks at protesters - it's illegal
He said specialist equipment and properly-trained officers were needed because of the height they were having to work at.
"I'm really happy with the speed at which we worked to procure the crane, to train and make sure our staff were absolutely safe working 55m above the road, 130m above the water, where a mistake has an inevitable consequence on those officers working at that height," he told Nick.
Police understand that the two protesters left a slow-moving vehicle and quickly climbed out of reach before getting to a height that was too dangerous for them to be brought down.
A review of what happened will be used to "minimise" the risk of it happening again.
He said he could not overrule National Highways, which made the decision to close off traffic - causing widespread disruption - for the safety of road users.
Eventually, police used a giant cherry picker to get them down.
In a joint statement, protesters Morgan and Marcus said: "We successfully disrupted oil supplies to Kent & the South East for 36 hrs. We are stepping down now but other supporters of Just Stop Oil will be stepping up day after day, causing disruption & putting their liberty on the line to demand that the government ends new oil & gas."
They have been taken into custody and had not been charged by Wednesday morning.
"Our intent from the very beginning was to arrest these individuals and bring them to justice for their acts," Ch Con Anslow said.