The fourth major of the year, the Open Championship 2023, is set to tee off at Royal Liverpool on Thursday, July 20. Ahead of the much-anticipated event, Merseyside police have now launched an unprecedented and large‑scale security effort in the wake of possible protest disruptions.
According to the police, the 151st Open Championship security will be on high alert, with deployment of plain clothes officers and other measures taken. The security alert comes amid the threat of Just Stop Oil protesters planning to target the high-profile event.
The protesters, who previously targeted the World Snooker Championship, the Grand National, rugby’s Premiership final, the Ashes and Wimbledon, are expected to cause disruptions this weekend at Hoylake as well. As per reports, several traders have even placed bets on The Open being the next event targeted by the protests.
For the unversed, the Just Stop Oil protesters are targeting big events to try to force the government to end new fossil fuel licensing and production. While there are no warnings issued by the group yet, the Open attendees have been warned to prepare for stringent security checks at Hoylake to avoid further activism.
The Merseyside police issues statement on The Open security warning
The Merseyside police, in a statement, said that “contingency plans are in place to allow visitors enjoy the Open with minimal disruption”. It is pertinent to note that over 260,000 golf fans are expected to arrive in Hoylake for The 151st Open.
Speaking about the possible disruptions and security alert, Merseyside Chief Superintendent Mark Wiggins was quoted as saying by the Guardian:
“The public should expect to see high‑visibility policing across the event as we complement and support other security agencies. There are a number of plans and processes in place to deal with any incidents that may arise and to prevent any significant or ongoing disruption to spectators and local residents and businesses.
“Antisocial behaviour, disorder and criminal activity will not be tolerated, and we will be robust with anyone who behaves in such a manner. Visitors can help the organisers by giving themselves extra time to get to the course, arriving in good time and limiting the number of bags and other items they bring along. They should also expect to undergo the normal security checks, including bag searches.”
The police official also added that the force will be deploying Project Servator officers in uniform and plain clothes to avoid any disruptions during the event. Despite the warnings, the R&A is yet to comment on the matter.