HS2: police braced for Commonwealth Games protests

Police are braced for anti-HS2 protestors to target the rail megaproject during the Commonwealth Games.

Documents obtained by Construction News under the Freedom of Information Act this month show that law enforcement discussed the issue in February.

Officials spoke about their assessment of what they felt the risks to HS2 would be during the major Birmingham event. They also noted plans to share between different police forces expertise in how to remove protesters.

CN first revealed in 2019 that police were looking into potential issues during the Games after mapping out a number of notable events that the construction of HS2 could affect.

The Commonwealth Games is set to begin later this week and will see more than 5,000 athletes from around the world competing in contests for which in excess of one million tickets have been sold.

Environmental protesters have repeatedly targeted HS2 sites in the past couple of years, prompting the rail project to obtain high court injunctions in some areas, and the government to plan making protests disrupting construction sites illegal.

In October last year HS2 minister Andrew Stephenson said project leaders estimated HS2 would incur £80m in further costs as a result of protester activity.

Last week, in response to the record UK temperatures, activists targeted sites including the M25 motorway to protest against government climate change policy.

On preparations for HS2 protests, a British Transport Police spokesperson said: “British Transport Police has a full policing plan in place for the 2022 Commonwealth Games. As is routine with policing any large event, all possibilities are taken into account, along with the tactics we have available to us to ensure the safety and security of all.”

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