Police arrest Animal Rising activists ahead of protest at Greyhound Derby at Towcester Racecourse

Animal rights activists had threatened to disrupt the English Greyhound Derby at Towcester Racecourse. Credit: Animal Rising

Three animal rights activists have been arrested by police ahead of a protest at a Greyhound racing event.

Two men, aged 41 and 26, and a 33-year-old woman - all members of a campaign group called Animal Rising - were arrested by Northamptonshire Police outside the county on Friday.

The group had threatened to disrupt Saturday's English Greyhound Derby at Towcester Racecourse - which attracts several thousand visitors.

Towcester Racecourse managing director Kevin Boothby has condemned “Animal Rising’s very public plans to disrupt” the final, saying: “Their unlawful and reckless intentions for Saturday night have already come at a significant cost to our operation.”

Police say the arrests have been made as part of a "public safety operation".

Chief Inspector Pete Basham, who is leading the operation, said: “We have conducted warrants outside Northamptonshire as part of a wider operation to stop those intent on disrupting sporting events.

"Today we will be facilitating people’s rights to lawfully protest, but I want to send a message to anyone considering disrupting today’s event that we will deal with them robustly if they step outside the law and affect the enjoyment of spectators coming to attend the races.”

Animal Rising posted a video on social media on Friday of a man in handcuffs being put into the back of a police van.

It said the arrests came "before supporters of Animal Rising even got within distance of Towcester Racecourse".

It continued: “Those arrested by the police were peaceful supporters who were trying to protect dogs.

“The increase in the suppression of dissent and peaceful protest is a threat to our democracy, and every day we see our democracy withering more and more.

“Despite these challenges, we will proceed with our intentions to disrupt the Greyhound Derby final tomorrow.

“The police have tried to stop us from protecting these greyhounds, but we will continue to put our bodies on the line to protect animals, and advocate for a better future for all life.”

Animal Rising said it supports calls by the RSPCA, Dogs Trust, and Blue Cross to end Greyhound racing in the UK.

Three Animal Rising protesters on a scaffold structure at Towcester Racecourse on Saturday, to protest againt greyhound racing. Credit: Animal Rising

On Saturday, ahead of the racing, other supporters of the group climbed a large scaffold holding a large TV screen in the centre of the racing track. They say they intend to stay there until the day’s races are cancelled.

The racecourse's managing director Mr Boothby urged racegoers to be patient amid extra security checks due to the threat of disruption.

He said “tens of thousands of pounds have been invested in additional security measures” because of Animal Rising.

He said organisers met with Animal Rising ahead of the final “so they could communicate their plans for the evening while we had a platform to reiterate our core concerns”.

The group has “made it clear under no circumstances would any of its members trespass onto the track in the process of a race taking place” but “we are expecting attempts to disrupt racing outside of the mentioned timeframe”, he added.

He urged attendees not to help police and security to remove any protesters, telling them to resist “temptations to be lured into conflict”.

“Our meeting with Animal Rising only confirmed to us their existence is dependent on media attention that is secured by acting in a manner that is not only unlawful, but also incredibly reckless and ill-considered,” he added.

“Animal Rising is using greyhound racing as a soft target in a far wider campaign where everyone is required to live a plant-based lifestyle and no activities that expose animals to risk of harm are permitted.”

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