Live animal export protests outside Kent Police HQ

Campaigners against live exports from the Port of Ramsgate have staged a demonstration outside Kent Police headquarters in Maidstone.

The protesters handed in a letter addressed to the county's new police and crime commissioner, Ann Barnes, urging her to look at the way the force handles the protests.

They claim it has been heavy handed.

Police said public safety was the main consideration when policing protests.

Live animal exports resumed in October after a temporary suspension by Thanet District Council was overturned in the High Court.

The suspension followed the deaths of 44 sheep at the port, which were put down after being discovered to be sick and lame in September.

A further three sheep also died in a separate incident when a loading floor collapsed.

'Quite emotional'

Ian Driver, a councillor with Thanet District Council, said the protesters who numbered about 30, asked Mrs Barnes to look at the use of the section 14 order which limits where in the port protests can be staged.

"People can be quite emotional and verbose when the lorries go past, but I've never seen it get out of hand," he said.

"The police are using the section 14 order to pen the protesters into a particular place.

"We're hoping Ann Barnes will call in the chief constable to talk to him about this."

A Kent Police spokeswoman said the force "respects" the lawful right to protest.

"Since live exports resumed at Ramsgate there have been six arrests at the port," she said.

"The port is incredibly busy, and can be dangerous place. The use of the section 14 order allows people their lawful right to protest without putting themselves or officers in danger."

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