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Police and organisers of British Grand Prix on high alert for climate protesters

Northamptonshire Police said they are deploying ‘state-of-the-art technology’ to provide an extra layer of security.

Police and organisers will be on high alert over the possibility of climate change protesters at the British Grand Prix.

Five Just Stop Oil protesters invaded last year’s event at Silverstone after they stormed the Wellington Straight, the fastest point of the Northamptonshire track, before sitting down during the opening lap.

Wimbledon 2023 – Day Three – All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club
A Just Stop Oil protester on court 18 after throwing confetti on to the grass at Wimbledon (Adam Davy/PA)

Just Stop Oil activists targeted Wimbledon on Wednesday and have caused disruption at the Lord’s Ashes Test, the Premiership rugby final and the World Snooker Championship so far this year.

Silverstone has worked alongside Northamptonshire Police to beef up security ahead of this year’s event, with a record 480,000 people expected to attend over the weekend, and 150,000 fans in place for the race.

England v Australia – LV= Insurance Ashes Series 2023 – Second Test – Day One – Lord’s
England’s Jonny Bairstow removes a Just Stop Oil protester from the pitch during day one of the second Ashes test match at Lord’s (Mike Egerton/PA)

Northamptonshire Police said they are deploying “state-of-the-art technology” to provide an extra layer of security.

In addition to the specialist teams, including armed officers, search teams, disruption officers and Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) units, Live Facial Recognition (LFR) will also be in operation at the circuit on Saturday and Sunday.

The force said this is the first time that LFR has been deployed outside of the South Wales and Metropolitan Police areas.

The technology works by scanning faces with a camera to match biometrics against those held on a watchlist.

This list is generated by the police and focuses on those who pose the greatest risk of danger to the wider public in attendance.

Lewis Hamilton file photo
Lewis Hamilton (David Davies/PA)

Police said the watchlist includes suspects who are wanted for offences or have an outstanding warrant for an arrest issued by the courts, those who pose a risk of harm to themselves or others and vulnerable missing people.

Asked ahead of Sunday’s race, if he would support a protest which did not involve people invading the track, driver Lewis Hamilton said: “Yes. I support peaceful protests.”

The seven-time world champion added: “We are hoping we have learnt from the experience (of last year).

“We have 100 more marshals this weekend which will be supportive to make sure it does not happen.

“From my perspective, and my teams’ perspective, we are focused on sustainability and we believe in what people (the protesters) are fighting for and we are making those changes as a sport.

“But safety is key. We don’t want to put them in harm’s way and we don’t want to put anyone else in harm’s way.

“If there was to be one (a protest) we hope it is not on track.”

Speaking to the PA news agency earlier this month, Silverstone managing director Stuart Pringle said: “The fundamental difference here is that you are not putting your life in danger when you run on the pitch at Lord’s.

“You are not putting your life in danger when you sit on a snooker table or protest at a flower show.

“A motor racing track is not the place to go.

“It is extraordinarily dangerous and people will be putting lives at risk if they go there, and any sensible, right-thinking person can extrapolate what the ultimate risk here is.

“My strong, strong message is: ‘Do not put your life in danger’.

“This is not the place to go and sit on a floor.

“It is absolute madness if someone climbs on to a live racing track.

“We have no specific intelligence, but we will plan for the worst and hope for the best.”

In a statement on Saturday, Just Stop Oil said: “The world average temperature record was broken twice this week.

“First on Monday and again on Tuesday.

“The hottest temperatures in over 100,000 years.

“Scientists are telling us that we are rapidly approaching tipping points that threaten to push hundreds of millions outside the conditions necessary for supporting human life.

“In the face of that threat, Just Stop Oil will continue disrupting sports and cultural events until the Government makes a meaningful statement to halt and new licences or consents for fossil fuel exploration in the UK.”

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