The widespread public opposition to the live export trade meant the start of shipments through Brightlingsea in January 1995 was going to be a sensitive and difficult one to Police.
Emotions were running high, and Essex Police's main concern at Brightlingsea was the safety of all concerned- trying to prevent injury to demonstrators, those involved in the trade and our own officers.
Exporting live animals is a legal trade. It was clear that the Brightlingsea demonstrators goal was to stop the trade taking place. They did this by illegally blocking the public road.
Essex Police must uphold the law, and to do this we had to clear the road. At all times we appealed to the demonstrators to protest within the law and asked them to move. Essex Police had to resort to physically removing those who continued to block the road. They were only arrested if they returned to the road again.
Demonstrators have legal rights too, and Essex Police was equally committed to upholding their rights. Regular meetings were held with organisers of the protest group BALE, urging them to stay within the law.
To reduce the impact on the people of Brightlingsea, whose daily lives were disrupted by the trade, Essex Police restricted the exporters to one convoy per day, on weekdays only. Whenever possible we avoided evenings, and times that children were going to and from school.
This was a costly operation, and we constantly attempted to reduce the number of Police officers involved so they could return to their normal duties, policing other areas of the county. Since the exports stopped, our officers in Brightlingsea have continued to work to rebuild relationships between the Police and the community.
Statement submitted to David Ames for a photographic exhibition in May 1996.