Robust policing operation aims to disrupt unlawful activity at Formula 1 British Grand Prix
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Ahead of the 2023 Formula 1 Aramco British Grand Prix, Northamptonshire Police is warning anyone planning on committing unlawful activity at this year’s event that they will be dealt with swiftly and robustly.
At last year’s British Grand Prix, five people jumped over the barriers and invaded the track shortly after the main showcase race had started at 3pm on Sunday, July 3. It was only thanks to the quick-thinking and swift actions of the circuit’s marshals that no-one was killed, and the group were subsequently arrested.
Their actions came even after Northamptonshire Police had issued a plea two days prior to race day, advising that a track invasion would be exceptionally dangerous and offering alternative places at the circuit where a peaceful protest could be facilitated.
Several of them spent weeks in prison on remand ahead of a three-week trial at Northampton Crown Court in February, when six people were found guilty of conspiracy to commit a public nuisance.
All six appeared at the same court in March, where they received various sentences from up to 12 months in prison, suspended, to being ordered to serve community orders and fulfil unpaid work requirements.
With more than 450,000 people expected to descend on Silverstone for the four-day event between July 6-9, ensuring the safety of everyone visiting the county is absolutely paramount and the Force is adamant this unlawful activity will not be repeated.
Extra resources will be in place throughout this year’s race event and officers will use new policing powers introduced under the Public Order Act 2023, as part of the contingency plans should anyone attempt to unlawfully disrupt the event.
Working closely with the event organisers, other emergency services and partner agencies, this year’s policing operation will be led by Event Commander for Northamptonshire Police, Detective Superintendent Richard Tompkins.
He said: “The actions of the Just Stop Oil protestors last year could have had fatal consequences and had it not been for an incident at the beginning of the race which meant the race was red flagged, they could have been facing cars travelling close to 200mph.
“They not only put their lives at risk but also those of the drivers, as well as the many marshals, volunteers, and members of the public. This was totally unacceptable, whatever the cause or the reason, and we will always pursue action against people like this.
“We have a robust policing plan in place for this year’s event and there will effectively be a ring of steel around the circuit with additional officers on duty to manage any incident.
“Northamptonshire Police respects the long-standing right of the public to engage in peaceful protest, but when lives are endangered, and criminal acts are committed, including significant disorder or disruption to the law-abiding public, local community, and businesses, we will intervene and promptly make arrests.
“I would also like to take this opportunity to appeal directly to anyone who is planning to attend Silverstone to invade the track or cause any other unlawful disruption to this event. We are more than happy to speak with you to help facilitate a peaceful protest and want to avoid a repeat of the reckless actions at last year’s event which put lives in danger.
“Finally, with more than 450,000 extra pairs of eyes at the venue over the four days, we would like help from the public to ensure that everyone attending the race event leaves the venue having had a crime-free, safe, and enjoyable experience.
“We’d like everyone to be extra vigilant and to contact us if they see anyone or anything which looks out of place or suspicious. We would rather receive a well-meaning report that turns out to be nothing as opposed to not being told at all.”
Over the next few weeks, stay up to date on the Force’s preparations for the Formula 1 British Grand Prix by following @NorthantsPolice on Twitter or by ‘liking’ Northamptonshire Police on Facebook.