Royal Ascot: Racegoers could be breathalysed as part of security crackdown

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Royal Ascot is attended by the Queen and other members of the Royal Family
Royal Ascot 2018
Date: Tuesday 19 to Saturday 23 June Venue: Ascot racecourse Times: 14:30-17:35 BST, feature race 16:20
Coverage: Updates on BBC Radio 5 live; live text commentary on BBC Sport website

Racegoers at next week’s Royal Ascot could be breathalysed and refused admission as part of a crackdown on incidents of violence at racecourses.

Brawls have marred meetings at Ascot and Goodwood this season.

Sniffer dogs, drugs amnesty boxes, increased “visible” security and the discontinuation of “beer hawkers” are among the new measures.

Ascot hopes it will “pre-empt incidents arising from excess alcohol consumption or other anti-social behaviour”.

The five-day Royal Ascot meeting, which is attended by the Queen and other members of the Royal Family, begins on 19 June.

“The use of illegal drugs and their contribution to anti-social behaviour is a significant issue for all major events,” said Ascot chief executive Guy Henderson.

“This year we will continue proactively to address these challenges with an increased specialist security team, supported by more visible stewarding around bar and other areas in order to pre-empt incidents arising from excess alcohol consumption or other anti-social behaviour.”

Fighting broke out at Ascot in May, a week after police said around 50 people were involved in “multiple altercations” at Goodwood.

The full measures at Royal Ascot will be:

  • A highly visible response team trained and equipped to carry out early intervention and evictions, increased to more than 100
  • The introduction of more specialist trained incident “spotters” to support that team
  • The operation of drugs amnesty boxes outside the racecourse, for racegoers to deposit illegal drugs alongside before entry
  • More than 20 specially trained drugs dogs to seek out people in possession of illegal drugs
  • Dogs to patrol key areas across the site including entry points outside the course, public bars and queues for the toilets and car parks
  • Those found in possession of drugs will be refused entry or expelled
  • The discontinuation of beer hawkers – mobile alcohol sellers
  • Breath testing of customers on entry who are showing overt signs of inebriation and refusing entry to those inebriated
  • Armed police officers both on and off site throughout Royal Ascot, as normal

Analysis

BBC racing correspondent Cornelius Lysaght

Ascot was severely shaken by the fighting that took place there and at Goodwood – two of British racing’s best-known venues – in May, particularly because the incidents, which went viral on the internet, took place on ‘quiet’ days compared with the Royal and Glorious fixtures staged later in the summer.

This list of tough measures from Ascot seems to demonstrate how concerned officials are: to threaten to breathalyse people about whom they’re suspicious on the way in is a radical move, and, again with alcohol consumption in mind, the stopping of ‘hawkers’ who sell beer within the crowds looks significant.



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