Star award for eagle-eyed port police

EAGLE-eyed port police at Felixstowe today have a framed memento of the day they showed their security systems are up to the challenge posed by terrorists.

EAGLE-eyed port police at Felixstowe today have a framed memento of the day they showed their security systems are up to the challenge posed by terrorists.

Officers at the container terminal were quick off the mark when the Evening Star put security to the test after claims that people could enter the country by ship and simply walk off the port and into the town.

Reporter Jon Tunney and photographer Owen Hines got onto the port through an unmanned gate in Carr Road.

But they hadn't got 100 yards when they were picked up on CCTV cameras and officers John Grinsdale and Peter Coe swooped to arrest them.

The story made the Star's front page, and the paper's Felixstowe editor Richard Cornwell has presented the officers with a framed copy of the edition, which will be displayed at the port police station.

Mr Cornwell said: "We had received a number of calls claiming that the Carr Road gate was an 'open door' for people to get off a ship, walk through the port or reach the Seafarers' Centre by minibus, and then simply walk out.

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"We decided to put this to the test in reverse – by walking onto the port to see how far a reporter could get, although there was no intention of going into the extremely hazardous quayside areas.

"As it was, Jon and Owen didn't get very far at all! They were spotted on CCTV almost immediately, and that shows the port is very much on the ball and has security as one of its highest priorities."

Paul Davey, corporate affairs manager, was delighted the port security systems passed the test.

He said 24-hour CCTV surveillance and extra patrols were part of a package of measures to increase security in line with international regulations and everyone at the terminal was being urged to be "very vigilant" over suspicious activity.

Millions of pounds are being spent on security, including new guards working at the entrances to the terminals, more CCTV cameras, extra steel fencing, tighter controls on terminal areas, and ID cards for everyone working at the complex.

Inspectors from the Department of Transport have visited the port and identified four "restricted areas" – Trinity, Landguard and Dooley terminals and the oil jetty – and four controlled buildings, Tomline House, Centenary House, the dock tower and police station, where extra security is needed.

Each restricted area will be surrounded by steel fencing and all entrances controlled and guarded, extra CCTV will be installed, and everyone entering the terminals and buildings will need an ID card.

In addition, dozens of extra customs officers will be stationed at the port to carry out inspections of cargo and gather intelligence, and radiological scanners will test consignments for nuclear material.

nAre you satisfied by port security? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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