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Lessons to be learned after Greatstone 'cookout' left four police officers injured

A police chief says lessons must be learned froma summer beach party which saw hundreds of people descend on a Kent coast.

Kent Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Scott said the large event at Greatstone near New Romney was "very challenging" for the county force to deal with four weeks ago.

Revellers took to Greatstone Beach as part of a pre-planned 'beach cookout'
Revellers took to Greatstone Beach as part of a pre-planned 'beach cookout'

Four police officers were injured , including one being hit by a car, while rubbish was strewn across the beach and nearby streets,including human waste in carrier bags and bottles of urine.

New coronavirus laws introduced last month mean anyone found to have organised or facilitated a gathering of more than 30 people could be liable to a £10,000 fine.

Earlier today, Mr Scott told a panel of councillors: "There is learning for both Kent Police and other organisations."

Cllr Jenny Hollingsbee (Con), who is the deputy leader of Folkestone and Hythe District Council, said it took "some time" for the county force to disperse the party despite early warnings.

She told the Kent and Medway Police Crime Panel: "It appears that sometimes the police officers, if they come from out of the area, do not understand if there is a public space protection order in place that can be used.

Rubbish left on Greatstone beach after a party. Picture: Pd Photography
Rubbish left on Greatstone beach after a party. Picture: Pd Photography

"It's quite a powerful piece of legislation that can be used."

Since then, patrols have been taking place in the area more regularly and a helicopter was also deployed to deal with another incident in New Romney during the August bank holiday.

Several coaches were spotted pulling up outside The Jolly Fisherman in Coach Drive and offloading passengers on August 30. Witnesses estimated there to be around 100 visitors.

Members of the public who attend future events risk a £100 fine, which can double for each incident up to a total of £3,200.

Mr Scott said: "With the first Greatstone event itself, the force did have some challenges but I think the response subsequently and patrols they are putting out on the beaches have prevented further such events from taking place."

Matthew Scott Kent Police and Crime Commissioner
Matthew Scott Kent Police and Crime Commissioner

Speaking to the virtual committee from Swanley Police Station, he added: "While that was a very challenging event and one which did impact on the community and officers who were injured, there has been a positive response subsequently."

Kent county councillor Mike Hill (Con), who chairs the Kent and Medway Crime Police crime panel, called for more details to be provided about the county force's performance during Covid at the next public meeting.

Cllr Hill said: "There has been a lot of interest in the public in terms of controlling the lockdown and dealing with people going to the beaches and all the problems people have faced."

Mr Scott said he would liaise with his team and aim to bring forward a dossier on the next agenda when the committee convened in December.

For the latest coronavirus news and advice, click here.

Read more: All the latest news from Romney Marsh

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