Essex Police defend reasons for M11 closure

Crime / Sat 18th Jun 2022 at 06:11am

STATEMENT from Essex Police regarding M11 closure on Friday afternoon.

A spokesperson said: “We will provide an update separately on our main channels later when appropriate in relation to the incident which closed the #M11 earlier between #Harlow and #Stansted (effecting the northbound track only, with a brief closure of the southbound to facilitate Helimed movement) however we felt an explanation of some of the decisions behind the scenes may be beneficial in light of so many questions, comments and concerns on the main post.

Firstly, we never take the decision to close a motorway lightly, especially during Friday rush hour and in such extreme heat however we hope that everyone held up considers how they would want us to act if they or someone they love was effected and the answers you would want, with the best investigation possible, proportionate to and balanced with the seriousness of the incident.

This incident occurred at and between two different locations on the stretch of northbound M11 at and after the new junction 7A and as with most of our incidents, the scenes themselves also encompass marks on the road on the approach so cover long distances.

Below is a very basic summary of the relevant timeline for incident 669:

2.08pm – first call received for a multi-vehicle RTC with several land ambulances and the air ambulance attending.

2.13pm – a passing off-duty officer stops to assist.

2.15pm – traffic officers from around the county and National Highways are already on their way to the scene, a Roads Policing Sergeant is also now on his way to the scene to take charge and ensure any closures are necessary and closely reviewed. Officers from Stansted airport ensure airlines know passengers could be delayed arriving.

2.23pm – first traffic car approaches with a rolling road block to close the M11 just prior to J7 for Harlow to limit the amount of vehicles being trapped within the scene. Additional officers need to be found to prevent traffic joining northbound at J7/J7A.

2.25pm – Roads Policing Sgt arrives on scene and starts co-ordinating actions, quickly joined by colleagues who progress the initial investigation as quickly as possible whilst the Helimed Doctor and Paramedics work, assisted by land colleagues.

2.40pm – screens are requested as a possible means to partially open a lane(s) whilst we work however later cancelled as they wouldn’t arrive in time to make a difference.

3.05pm – officers on scene ask for updates to be passed to the public via social media re intentions and preparation to open a lane for trapped traffic

3.20pm – Highways officers trying to get to the scene and closures to assist inform us they are held up and hindered by members of the public blocking the hard shoulder and some even driving the wrong way along slip roads, with others reversing up the M11 onto the M25.

3.30pm – outside lane opened to release all traffic trapped after J7, traffic before J7 will have to wait or find their own diversion when later allowed to access J7 as the closure is moved forward slightly to facilitate.

3.50pm – all trapped traffic is now clear and on their way towards J8 (Stansted).

6.20pm – comprehensive scene examinations at both locations including measurements, photos and vehicle recovery now complete (at two separate locations north of J7A) and the M11 now fully back open to all traffic. Officers remain on the hard shoulder to complete final actions whilst traffic can flow.
Letting traffic off at junctions isn’t as simple as people may think as whilst key junctions like the M25, A120 and A406 can cope quite well, some junctions (like Harlow) can’t take that weight of traffic without suitable preparation as otherwise the whole area will gridlock meaning traffic is still stuck, and now all traffic on the approaches and surrounds is too.

Do we always get it right? Of course not, we do however work hard and make all decisions in good faith to balance different and competing priorities with what staff we have available and whilst numerous other incidents are ongoing, many just as or more urgent also requiring attendance.

“As we said at the start, we hope people bear in mind what they would want from us if someone they loved were involved in an incident and try to be patient whilst we work to get everyone home”.

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6 Comments for Essex Police defend reasons for M11 closure:

2022-06-18 08:43:10

I spent 3:45 hours in that traffic yesterday 🙃

2022-06-18 09:01:32

Well done to EP. Pity highways are not much help. when I drove by the Brand new electronic sign boards approaching Mark Hall Rbt broadcast no incidents reported. At the RBT signs M11 N closed / diverted. Unwise locals would have gone to M11 south. causing added stress to roads.

2022-06-18 10:31:37

Thanks to all involved, they were doing their job! Yes being stuck in traffic isn't nice especially if it's hot but come on people who are moaning and slating! Accidents happen, we are so lucky to have our emergency services .

2022-06-18 10:31:51

I think it's so sad that the Police have to defend their actions here. We now know that someone died in this accident and who knows how many people were injured and how it may affect their lives going forward. It's hot and it's not great when you get stuck behind an accident, but the emergency services need time and space, and importantly a safe working environment, to do their jobs properly. Everyone moaning that they were hot and delayed got home yesterday... one person didn't. Maybe they should spend their time reflecting on how lucky they were rather than taking cheap pot shots at the Police.

2022-06-18 14:01:49

Max at least you made it home. Someone didn’t…

2022-06-18 19:10:26

Might be an idea to have regular points on motorways, like the police access only points that already exist, to enable police to release stuck traffic, being able to clear the motorway in a controlled manner would also have the advantage of enabling emergency services to get to the scene of an accident faster. Extremely saddening that a person died; it has to be remembered that the police managed to stop and start traffic in a safe manner and avoided any more accidents and casualties: a difficult and high risk job well done.

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