[Police deploy facial recognition tech as Just Stop Oil prepared to put ‘bodies on the line’
Silverstone event commander detective superintendent Richard Tompkins says that a “ring of steel” will be erected around the circuit permitter in a bid to prevent a repeat of the disruption in the 2022 race.
Five people from Just Stop Oil jumped the barriers on the opening lap of last year’s GP but an early red flag for Zhou Guanyu rolling at Turn 1 meant the field slowed by the time it reached the demonstration on the Wellington Straight.
After Just Stop Oil hit the wedding of former chancellor George Osborne on Saturday to follow displays at Wimbledon and the Chelsea Flower Show, concerns are heightened that Formula 1 will be again interrupted this weekend.
Lewis Hamilton and the police have welcomed the idea of a planned peaceful protest. Meanwhile, his fellow drivers have stressed safety concerns for themselves, protestors and marshals, stewards or spectators who intervene and break onto the live track.
As a safeguarding measure, the police have deployed search teams, armed officers, uniformed officers with dogs and plain-clothes detectives in addition to Automatic Number Plate Recognition.
In conjunction with South Wales Police, the Northants division has also rolled out live facial recognition cameras to scan attendees to match them against biometric data of those who are held on a watchlist.
This watchlist is generated by the police and includes suspects who are wanted for offences or have an outstanding warrant for an arrest issued by the courts. Data of people who do not trigger an alert will automatically be deleted from the system.
Just Stop Oil has tweeted images and videos of the British GP and its 2022 protest in the lead up to the race.
While the group has used its social media platform to welcome Hamilton’s call for a peaceful protest and called on the seven-time world champion to distance himself from Mercedes chief sponsor Petronas, Just Stop Oil has warned that individuals are prepared to “put their bodies on the line” for the cause.
The group posted: “We welcome Lewis Hamilton’s statement of support for peaceful protest but would like to nonetheless stress that nonviolent direct action involves brave individuals choosing to put their bodies on the line to demand a better future for all.”
As a result of the 2022 protest, six people were found guilty of conspiracy to commit a public nuisance and were served with various sentences: up to 12 months in prison, suspended, being ordered to serve community orders and fulfil unpaid work requirements.