Sport

‘Lives at risk at British Grand Prix,’ say police after intelligence about protests

The British Grand Prix is under threat of a potential track invasion by environmental protesters, according to Northamptonshire police. Police have warned of credible intelligence that a protest is being planned for Sunday’s race at Silverstone that they warn may put lives at risk.

Which environmental activists are responsible for planning the intervention has not been made public but Tom Thompson, chief inspector of Northamptonshire police, has urged the group to call off their plans and have offered to facilitate a space for a peaceful protest away from the circuit.

“First of all, I want to appeal directly to this group of people and strongly urge you to not put yourselves, the drivers, as well as the many marshals, volunteers and members of the public, at risk,” he said. “Going onto a live racetrack is extremely dangerous, if you go ahead with this reckless plan you are jeopardising lives. Protesting is of course everyone’s human right in this country and we are more than happy to speak with you to help you facilitate a peaceful protest at the circuit.”

Race organisers are working with the police in order to try to avoid any disruption on a weekend over which 400,000 spectators are expected, with a record 142,000 anticipated on Sunday. “We work closely with Northamptonshire police and the emergency service agencies to put plans and procedures in place to ensure we are fully prepared to handle such situations,” said the Silverstone chief executive, Stuart Pringle.

“I am confident, under the lead of the police, and with the pooled resources of our partners, that we can deliver a safe and secure event for the fans, which remains our overriding priority.”

In 2020 the Extinction Rebellion group entered the circuit during the weekend when the meeting was being held behind closed doors because of the pandemic and in 2003 the former priest Cornelius Horan broke onto the track and ran down the Hangar Straight during the race.