Police have warned that holidaymakers face weeks of severe delays at Dover due to problems with French border checks.

Motorists heading for the Continent queued for up to 15 hours over the weekend after French authorities stepped up security checks following the Nice terrorist attack.

The Port of Dover said that French border control booths at the port had been left seriously understaffed, with three of the seven used by tourists open on Friday night – the start of the peak summer getaway.

“At one stage, only one French officer was available to check passengers on hundreds of coaches, resulting in each coach taking 40 minutes to process,” a spokesman told The Times.

Kent police said queues were returning to normal on Sunday but that a large volume of holiday traffic coupled with heightened security “could mean some delays over the next few weeks”.

Some motorists caught up in the tailbacks turned away from Dover on Sunday morning to use Eurotunnel Le Shuttle services from Folkestone instead.

The port said it had raised concerns over French staffing levels with the UK government earlier this week, which were then brought up with its French counterparts.

A DFDS spokesman said: “DFDS is advising customers travelling from Dover on its routes to Calais and Dunkirk to check for the latest updates on the traffic situation over the next few days before setting off on their journeys and to allow plenty of time to get to the port.

“The company is working closely with colleagues at the Port of Dover and continuing its dialogue with government to insist that the French authorities ensure that the border controls at Dover remain fully manned throughout the busy holiday period to prevent a repeat of the weekend’s delays.

“DFDS provided extra sailings over the weekend and its teams at the port, in its contact centre and on board worked hard to keep customers informed, handed out water at check in and ensured ships departed from Dover fully loaded to help as many customers as possible get away on their holidays.”