Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Police Blame Boozing for Fights

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Police Blame Boozing for Fights

Article excerpt

Byline: By Brenda Hickman

Police today blamed booze-fuelled fans for clashes among hundreds of derby match supporters in Newcastle city centre.

Northumbria officers were geared up for organised violence between rival hooligan factions Newcastle Gremlins and Seaburn Casuals following intelligence before the Newcastle v Sunderland game.

But a police chief said these didn't materialise and the majority of the 56 arrests in the city were drunken Newcastle supporters fighting each other.

Two city centre streets leading to the Bigg Market had to be closed off and pubs in Tynemouth shut early as trouble also flared there.

Chief Insp Kevin Wellden of Newcastle command area said today: "There were hundreds of supporters in the city centre but not all of them had been to the game, some had come in to drink.

"Binge drinking was a key element to the clashes which started at around 7.20pm, long after the Sunderland fans had left the city. People had been drinking early on Sunday, went to the match and carried on drinking after the game.

"And there were others who just came into the city to drink while the game was on.

"There were 50 arrests for drunken and public order offences in the Bigg Market area, which involved some 200 to 300 people in the melee.

"We did bring in reinforcements as part of our contingency plans and it took some time to quell the situation, involving closing off Grainger and Newgate streets.

"However, there were no organised clashes with Sunderland supporters. This was binge drinking leading to fighting."

The major trigger for mass police action came with an incident in The City Vaults pub in the Bigg Market and a handful of other pubs.

During that spate of fights, there were 31 arrests for drunk and disorderly behaviour, seven assaults, 10 public order offences and breaches of the peace, one for criminal damage and police caught someone with an undisclosed weapon.

Chief Insp Wellden added: "There were six arrests before, during and after the game in and around the ground. One of those was for domestic violence between a couple."

Disabled Sunderland supporters were badly shaken when a brick was thrown at their coach window as they left the ground after the game. …

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