Police End Dover Protest Investigation

14 June 2018, 08:05 | Updated: 14 June 2018, 08:07

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A two-year investigation by Kent Police into offences committed during violent protests in Dover has concluded pending any further evidence.

A two-year investigation by Kent Police into offences committed during violent protests in Dover has concluded pending any further evidence.

Fighting broke out when activists taking part in a march through the town clashed with others holding a counter-protest at the same time, on Saturday 30 January 2016. 

There were also violent scenes at a service station on the M20 near Maidstone earlier that day.

A dedicated team of police officers and staff have worked for more than two years to bring those responsible to justice, resulting in the convictions of 64 offenders and sentencings totalling 85 years being handed out by the courts, some of which were suspended.

Chief Constable Alan Pughsley said: "The violent offences committed in Dover were some of the worst my officers have ever been faced with and understandably caused a great deal of distress for innocent members of the community and business owners who were forced to witness the fighting and deal with the aftermath.

"The majority of those responsible were from outside of the county and travelled to Kent with the sole intention of causing trouble. They have since learned the hard way that we will not tolerate such behaviour and will travel the length and breadth of the UK to arrest them and ensure they face the consequences of their actions.

"I am proud of the work carried out by the investigation team, who have helped to send a clear message that Kent is a no-go area for anyone planning to commit violence under the pretence of peaceful protest. I hope the people of Dover share my pride in their professionalism and are reassured that we take such incidents seriously and will not stand for such violence on our streets.’

The majority of people jailed in relation to the offences either admitted or were found guilty of committing violent disorder, in many cases due to them throwing objects and fighting in the street.

However, the longest sentence passed down was seven years for Peter Atkinson, 48, from Merseyside, who was jailed in May 2016 after pleading guilty to causing grievous bodily harm. 

He had been caught on camera assaulting a photographer with a flagpole, leaving his victim with multiple bone splinters to his elbow.

In August 2014 James Whitbread, 41, from Rochester, received the second longest sentence of four years in custody after being found guilty of throwing objects at opposition protestors and assaulting a man.

Brett Vaughan, 46, from Lancashire, was jailed for three-and-a-half years in March 2017 after he was also caught throwing objects on three separate occasions.

Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Scott said: "I was shocked and appalled at the violence and disorder committed on the streets of Dover in January 2016. These thugs were never intending to exercise their right to peaceful protest.

"I commend Kent Police on its robust and meticulous response. The Chief Constable and his team pursued the offenders relentlessly over many, many months. In some cases people were convicted more than two years after the event.

"Perhaps, having specifically travelled to Dover to cause trouble hundreds of miles away from their homes, they thought Kent Police had forgotten about them? Clearly that was not the case and I hope this makes any other hooligans think twice before coming to Kent in future."

From Kent Police