Security alert at Dartford Crossing

Police close route in both directions and army carries out controlled explosions after reports of a suspicious package

Police reopened the busy M25 Dartford Crossing between Kent and Essex on Friday night, hours after closing it in both directions as part of a major security operation that was put in place following the arrest of a pedestrian and the discovery of an unspecified suspicious item.

A coach was also later stopped outside Dover as part of the investigation, which led to motorists being caught up in nine-mile tailbacks as a result of the closure of the Queen Elizabeth II bridge and both tunnels.

After opening the crossing again more than six hours after it was shut, Kent police announced that inquiries had concluded, and added in a tweet: “No threat and traffic now being moved.”

Bomb disposal teams had spent the evening assessing the situation at the crossing, which handles approximately 140,000 vehicles a day and connects the north and south part of London’s M25 ring road.

Graeme Brouder, 36, a motorist from Twickenham in south-west London, told the BBC that he saw a man running along the side of cars near the motorway tolls and attempting to get into them at around 4.30pm.

“He came back towards the cars, he went across into the lane next to me, tried to get in the car next to me, he was shouting something – I had my windows up so I couldn’t hear him,” he said.

“He was shouting at that car, tried to get in that car, ran past mine, tried my doorhandle, and then ran down the lane behind me and he was just shouting at everyone.”

Separately, army experts carried out two controlled explosions after a “suspect package” was left at a bookmaker’s in Welwyn Garden City, Herts.

People were evacuated from their homes and businesses after reports that a robbery had taken place at Ladbrokes on Cole Green Lane.

Officers also received information that a suspect package had been left at the scene during the incident, which happened at around 4.50pm.

A 100m cordon was put in place around the scene and army experts assessed the package before carrying out two controlled explosions.

A Hertfordshire police spokeswoman said: “No one was injured and the cordons were lifted at around 9.30pm.” © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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