Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Police Adopt a Hands-Off Approach for Derby Day

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Police Adopt a Hands-Off Approach for Derby Day

Article excerpt

Byline: Sophie Doughty Crime Reporter

POLICE plan to once again let fans make their own way into St James' Park ahead of this weekend's Tyne-Wear derby.

Newcastle United will host Sunderland in what was traditionally one of the most tense matches in the football calendar.

The last time the two teams met on Tyneside, in December 2014, Northumbria Police tried a new style of policing. Gone were the rings of steel and frogmarching fans from railway station to stadium. Instead, Black Cats supporters were encouraged to make their own way to the ground with police only stepping in if trouble flared.

The move, branded risky by some, paid off with a relatively troublefree derby day.

And after consulting with fans, the force is hoping to once again adopt the same model for Sunday's 1.30pm kick-off.

However, operations >Chief Supt commander Chief Supt Steve Neill is reassuring the public there will be a highly visible police presence before and after the game, and officers will be ready to adapt plans if necessary and deal with any disorder that arises. He said: "Supporters from both Newcastle and Sunderland have been consulted in the run-up to the derby and they have had a valued input into preparations for the match.

"We must not forget we also have to police a normal shopping day in Newcastle and there will also be a Comic-Con event being held at the Metro Radio Arena on the day of the match.

"Our priority remains the safety of the public and anyone in the region on Sunday should be reassured that we have resources in place to tackle any disorder that may occur.

"We will continue with the tactics that have proved successful in recent matches between these two teams but we understand the importance of this game and our policing operation will reflect that."

Extra police officers will be based at key points around Sunderland and Newcastle before, during and after the game to assist fans and members of the public who are not in the cities for the football.

Police have also worked closely with other agencies to once again secure an agreement with all licensees across the force area not to serve alcohol before 9am in a bid to minimise the likelihood of alcohol-related disorder. …

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