David | 07.08.2008 20:13 | Climate Camp 2008
Police powers to stop and search people at Climate Camp have been extended.
Officers can now stop and search anyone without needing to have reasonable grounds to do so.
The command team say they took the decision after stopping people with items that could be used as weapons.
There is also heightened tension with a hardcore group of people police say are intent on criminal activity.
The extended powers – under Section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act – are now in place across the Hoo peninsula.
It means anyone, including visitors to the area, or residents are subject to a stop and search if requested by a police officer.
These powers are subject to legal review every 24 hours.
Assistant Chief Constable Gary Beautridge said: "Kent Police has held back from extending stop and search powers since the climate camp protestors arrived.
"But today we have felt it is necessary to put an order in place that covers the whole of the Hoo peninsula.
"So far we have arrested three people for possessing bladed instruments.
"We’re also finding people who are carrying items that could be used as weapons.
"We want local people to feel safe in the knowledge that we are seizing these items.
"We have a duty to keep local residents, protestors and our officers safe.
"We ask that people on the Hoo peninsula continue to support us and we are really appreciative of their continuing patience and understanding.
"When the camp ends next week we hope the communities in the area can return to normal quickly.
ACC Beautridge added that Kent Police will continue to allow peaceful protest and endeavour to keep disruption for local people to a minimum.