Exclusive: Boat Race spectators urged to be extra vigilant

Ben Rumsby
There will be extra security at this year's Boat Race - Getty Images Europe

Police have urged those attending the Boat Race to be extra vigilant following last week’s terrorist atrocity at the Houses of Parliament.

The Metropolitan Police confirmed additional patrols would continue to be carried out across London during what is a sporting event that is almost uniquely vulnerable to the kind of attack carried out in Westminster 10 days ago.

There were no plans for visible armed patrols along the 4¼-mile stretch of the Thames between Putney and Mortlake but the Met and race organisers insisted they were doing everything possible to ­ensure the event passed off safely. Unlike for the London Marathon, roads are not closed for the Boat Race, meaning vehicles and pedestrians could be in close proximity, as they were when a lone terrorist mounted the pavement in a rented car during a killing spree that started on Westminster Bridge.

Some spectators tomorrow are likely to convene on Hammersmith Bridge and Barnes Bridge, although the security plan was focused on the whole course rather than ­specific landmarks.

The Met said in a statement: “An appropriate policing plan is in place for the Boat Race. In light of last week’s attack, additional patrols are being carried out across the capital to provide reassurance. 

The Boat Race takes place on Sunday

“The security threat level ­remains at severe and, as always, we would encourage those attending to be aware of their surroundings and be vigilant.”

Race director Michelle Dite added: “We have been in constant communication with the Metropolitan Police following the incident in Westminster. We would like to take this ­opportunity to reassure all those planning to attend that we are taking appropriate advice to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for all.”

Oxford and Cambridge Universities declined to comment on whether they had issued security advice to students intending to travel to London, saying that was a matter for race organisers.

The event is no stranger to security scares, the most famous of which took place five years ago when protestor Trenton Oldfield jumped into the Thames, interrupting the race.

The actions of Oldfield, who was jailed for causing a public nuisance, prompted a major crackdown in subsequent years, with the Royal Marines Reserve deployed to patrol the course.

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