Nineteen people have been arrested in connection with plans to disrupt the
Epsom Derby Festival on Saturday, Surrey Police said.
Officers said 11 people were arrested at addresses in Mitcham and Byfleet in the early hours of the morning following warrants based on intelligence received ahead of the festival.
Eight people were also arrested after a vehicle stopped in Burgh Heath at about 10.20am.
All were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit public nuisance and remain in police custody.
Activists from the group Animal Rising had pledged to ‘cancel or severely delay’ the Derby in the lead-up to the event.
The Jockey Club, which owns Epsom Downs has been granted a High Court injunction against Animal Rising which bans people from going on to the racetrack and disrupting the races.
Nevin Truesdale, chief executive of the Jockey Club, said today’s security measures would be like none seen before at the race.
He said: ‘Surrey Police have been and continue to be incredibly helpful and we will have a security operation in place at the Derby festival this weekend will be like no other we have seen in the past.’
Those breaching the court order may be subject to contempt of court proceedings and fined or jailed.
On Friday, Surrey Police warned they ‘will not tolerate’ risks to public safety after an Animal Rising member told Sky News she would do ‘what’s necessary’, including breaking the law, to protect the animals.
There was disruption at the Grand National at Aintree in April when the race was delayed by just over 10 minutes after demonstrators made their way on to the track and had to be removed by police.
In a defiant announcement following the arrests, Animal Rising said police would not stop them from disrupting the Derby.
They said: ‘Earlier this morning, at least 10 arrests were made by Surrey Police, allegedly in connection with the Epsom Derby.
‘This comes after reports of facial recognition camera around Epsom Downs Racecourse.
‘Police heavy-handedness and intimidation tactics will not prevent a national conversation about our animals and the natural world
‘It restates its commitment to protect horses and disrupt the Derby.’
Superintendent Michael Hodder of Surrey Police said: ‘We have been clear in our approach that criminal activity will not be tolerated at the Epsom Derby Festival.
‘As a result of intelligence, we have arrested 19 people who we believe were intent on illegally disrupting today’s events.
‘Our officers will be at the event throughout the day to continue in keeping the public safe and preventing criminality.’
Jockey Club officials fear the protest will endanger participants, racegoers and horses, although they said they do not dismiss the right to peaceful protest and have offered Animal Rising an area near the racecourse’s entrance to demonstrate.
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