Police make 31 arrests in connection with planned protests at Epsom Derby

Police liaison officers look on in the area where animal rights protesters are during Derby Day of the 2023 Derby Festival at Epsom. Credit: PA

Police arrested 31 protesters attempting to disrupt the Epsom Derby on Saturday, including 12 in the grounds.

In a statement shortly after two Animal Rising activists were tackled to the ground as they tried to run on to the racecourse, a spokesman for Surrey Police said: “We can confirm that 31 people have been arrested in connection with planned criminal activity at the Epsom Derby Festival this afternoon."

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.

Police added: “A total of 12 people have been arrested within the Epsom Downs racecourse since the event began this morning, also in connection with planned criminal activity. One man was arrested after he ran onto the racetrack after a race had started. He was quickly removed by event security and police officers, meaning the race was not disrupted.”

Two police officers ahead of Derby Day of the 2023 Derby Festival at Epsom . Credit: PA

Chief Superintendent Clive Davies said: “Our officers and event security responded quickly and decisively after a man ran onto the racetrack after a race had begun.

“We will not tolerate criminal behaviour which puts lives in danger, including those of the animals, jockeys, security staff and our officers.”

Animal Rising had warned that protesters would attempt to disrupt the event, despite a High Court injunction.

The group tweeted that it would do "what's necessary" to protect the horses.

On Friday, Surrey Police said it “will not tolerate” risks to public safety, after an Animal Rising spokeswoman said she would do “what’s necessary”.

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.”

The Epsom Derby is part of The Derby Festival and one of the most anticipated events to take place in the annual horse racing calendar.

For 2023, the festival will take place across Friday June 2 and Saturday June 3, in Epsom, Surrey.

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