Sniffer dogs and an elite armed unit will be on hand at the Cheltenham Festival as police vow to issue a “very strong anti-drugs” message to racegoers.
Just two arrests were made over the four days of racing on site for drugs offences last year but officers are said to be planning a ring of steel around this year’s event.
Gloucestershire Police refused to confirm specific details of their security operation but a source close to the event confirmed drug-detection dogs and their handlers would form the main deterrent to potential drug use by racegoers.
“While the number of arrests was low last year, the racecourse has robust measures in place that send out a very strong anti-drugs message to the 260,000 people who attend,” the force said in a statement. “Our officers work with the organisers each year to help ensure an enjoyable but safe Festival and crime is generally very low in and around the event.”
Racing is anxious to avoid any repitition of the ugly scenes at Haydock this year when a mass brawl broke out in front of the stands. There were similar disturbances at Ascot and Goodwood last year.
Ian Renton, regional director of Cheltenham and the South West for Jockey Club Racecourses, said: “We have a large security presence here for the Festival, both from the police and security companies.