Police chiefs have been ordered to reveal their operations that oversee the controversial trade in livestock exports from Ramsgate.
Kent Police & Crime Commissioner Ann Barnes made the request in a letter to Kent Police Chief Constable Ian Learmonth.
The report is due to be delivered by Tuesday (15 January). It will then be made public.
“I have received a considerable amount of public correspondence concerning the policing of live animal exports at the Port of Ramsgate,” Ms Barnes wrote.
“At present, the exports remain an entirely legal activity but attract significant protest from animal welfare groups, as well as by members of the public from Kent and elsewhere.
“The policing operations at Ramsgate are not just of local interest and importance, but of some national significance too.”
Livestock exports from Ramsgate hit the headlines last autumn when more than 40 sheep were slaughtered at the dockside after they were found to be lame.
It remains unclear how so many animals became so lame they had to be killed. The incident is the subject of a government inquiry and ongoing criminal investigation.
Animal welfare campaigners, including the RSPCA, have called for an end to livestock exports. But farm leaders say it is a legitimate activity that gives UK farmers access to a vital market.
In her letter, Ms Barnes said she was conscious of the “very challenging balance” the police had to achieve in such circumstances.
This balance involved on the one hand allowing a lawful activity to continue, and on the other facilitating legitimate protest against it.
“I have concluded that it is right for me to commission a public-facing report from you, which I will publish,” she told Chief Constable Learmonth.
The report will detail the aims and intentions of the policing operation at Ramsgate.
It will cover the police approach to allowing animal exports to legally operate and facilitating legitimate public protests.
Police have been asked to detail the force’s utilisation of public order and other criminal laws against protestors, including details of any restrictions and arrests.
Ms Barnes has also asked for a detailed breakdown of the financial costs of the policing operations to date and any “resourcing issues” connected with policing at Ramsgate.
It is expected that almost all of the report will be placed in the public domain, with the exception of details of ongoing criminal investigations or sensitive operational issues.
Ms Barnes said she would then consider if there was any further action she should take in respect of scrutiny and oversight of police operations at Ramsgate.