Specialist Enforcement Removal Team Evicts Protesters from Well-established Illegal Encampment in County Durham
This weekend, our Specialist Enforcement Removal Team carried out a large-scale operation and successfully evicted 20 organised and determined protesters from a well-established illegal encampment. The camp was on private land in County Durham where planning permission has been granted for a new opencast coal site.
The encampment established since early March, was on the verge of the major public road and at the entrance of the private site near Consett. The operation therefore required close cooperation with Durham Constabulary and Durham County Council.
Court Enforcement Services’ operational commander, produced in advance a comprehensive risk assessment and operation plan with the proprietor. Health and safety is always at the forefront of all, especially on operations that involve protesters, Police, all Specialist Teams and Enforcement Agents. The Team’s operational commander, liaised with the public authorities before and throughout the 3-day operation.
At the start of the dawn operation 25 High Court Enforcement Agents and 40 Police Officers were initially involved.
The eviction was undertaken in 2 stages over 3 days.
Stage 1 was for the Special Enforcement Removal Team to gain access to the site and secure it. The operation required the Police closing the public road for safety reasons owing to the morning rush hour. (The road was opened later, so local disruption was kept to a minimum).
The Enforcement Agents faced a number of challenges and obstacles which had been anticipated and planned for. This included protesters that had secured themselves, ‘locking on’ to poles embedded in concrete in deep underground tunnels, scaling trees or occupying the tree houses they had already built. Protesters were also ‘locking on’ to elevated platforms and ‘dragons’ (wheelie bins filled with concrete and gas canisters).
Specialist Teams were called upon for their rescue expertise in gaining access to those protesters in trees or tunnels. The high calibre management of this operation ensured that all protesters were safely removed.
The protesters included individuals from across the UK and Europe – there were 7 arrests.
Stage 2 on the 3rd day was the final sweep by the Enforcement Team, especially of the tunnels to ensure there were no false walls and that the whole site was safe.
The protester’s camp was dismantled so it was no longer obstructing the highway and the owners finally had access to their site.
Daren Simcox, Managing Director for Court Enforcement Services said “The operation was successful owing to the Enforcement Agents highest level of professionalism and working closely as a unit. Our Specialist Enforcement Removal Team demonstrated this even when presented with the most challenging of circumstances.”
Although not required all scenarios were covered in the pre-planning including the Enforcement Agents being able to handcuff. The specialist removal enforcement teams are trained to a very high standard – equivalent to the Police Tactical Support Unit training – (level 2 public order & level 3 handcuffing). Special Police units were also in reserve.
If you would like any further information on our
Specialist Enforcement Removal Team services please contact:
Wayne Whitford, FCICM MBPA , Director
07834 748 183 – 01992 663 399