Man detained under Mental Health Act after M25 Dartford Crossing closure

 

A man arrested in connection with a bomb hoax which led to the Dartford Crossing being closed in both directions and severe delays on the M25 has been detained under the Mental Health Act.

The 27-year-old was in police custody since being arrested on Friday and has now been taken to a secure unit under the care of the Health Authority, a spokesman for Kent Police said.

The man, from Bournemouth in Dorset, is alleged to have made threats of a suspicious device on board the coach he had been travelling on before making further threats about an explosive device on another coach.

The incident led to motorists being caught in nine-mile long tailbacks after both the QE2 Bridge and Dartford Tunnels were closed for almost seven hours during rush-hour traffic on Friday night, while traffic was also stopped from using the A20 at Dover.

Police said they recovered a cylindrical device with wires heavily sealed inside a bag from the first coach.

It was found after the force was called at 4.03pm to a report of a male pedestrian behaving unusually. He had alighted from a coach which was Dover-bound and run to a rough area nearby, police said.

Security personnel at a nearby distribution depot detained the man and officers arrested him at 4.15pm before he was taken to a police station where he made threats as to a suspicious device on board the coach.

The vehicle, which had just gone through the toll booths, was evacuated along with the immediate surrounding area, which was extremely busy at the time.

Bomb disposal experts attended the scene and a robotic device was deployed to examine the device more closely.

Police said the detained man made further threats that there was an explosive device on another coach and officers then stopped a coach on the A20 at Dover at 6pm. It was evacuated and the road was closed before being reopened at around 10.45pm after no threat was found.

The Dartford Crossing was reopened at around 11.45pm, police said.

Assistant Chief Constable Rob Price said today: "We were dealing with a very challenging situation, with two scenes in extremely busy areas. Our main priority was to ensure the safety of the public, our officers and our partners at the scene.

"We had received threats of a very serious nature that required regional and national co-ordination and declared this as a critical incident. Obviously a lot of people were caught up in long delays but this could not be avoided as we had to ensure public safety and as soon as clearance was obtained the road was immediately opened.

"We would like to thank the public for their patience last night, and also thank our partners, the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Team, South East Coast Ambulance Service, the Highways Agency, Kent Fire and Rescue Service, Kent County Council and others who all worked to ensure the safety of everyone involved."

Motorists crossing the Dartford Tunnel reported seeing a man walking near the toll booths shouting.

Van driver Paul Auty, 39, told the Daily Mail: "This man was wandering around between the lines of traffic waiting to go through the toll booths, and he was waving his arms around and shouting."

Photographs posted on social networking site Twitter showed long queues of stationary traffic with many commuters standing outside their vehicles.

Laura Wilcock posted on Twitter: "Finally home and in my bed after a very long 9 hours stuck on the dartford bridge. Scary stuff. I hope everyone gets home safely xx"

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Howard Marks has been diagnosed with inoperable cancer, he has announced
people
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has spoken about the lack of opportunities for black British actors in the UK
film
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
Rowan Atkinson at the wheel of his McLaren F1 GTR sports car
people
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us