Northumbria Police has changed the way it uses football banning orders

Chief Superintendent Steve Neill of Northumbria Police.
Chief Superintendent Steve Neill of Northumbria Police.
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Northumbria Police said it has changed the way it works since an infamous derby match at which a police horse was punched.

The force used banning orders extensively to deal with thugs who caused trouble after Newcastle United lost 3-0 at home to arch-rivals Sunderland in 2013.

Youngsters, some thought to be from estates close to the city centre, who had not even seen the game, joined in disorder, attacking police with missiles, and a 45-year-old took a swing at police horse Bud.

One boy aged 12 was handed a football banning order for throwing bottles and being abusive.

The force has banned another 42 under-18s in the past three years - five of them Sunderland fans, and the rest Newcastle.

Operations Commander Chief Superintendent Steve Neill said: "We recognise these numbers are high, but a large number of these orders were issued following the Tyne-Wear derby in April 2013 where several young people got involved in disorder.

"Following this game we made a concerted effort to change the way we work and engage with the thriving football community that exists in the North East."

The force now has a Football Neighbourhood Policing Team (NPT) which works closely with fans, and regularly visits schools and colleges to talk to young people about the dangers of getting involved in hooliganism.

Mr Neill said: "This approach has already had a significant impact on disorder at games, and I want to pay tribute to the football community in the North East, who have behaved impeccably at the most recent meetings between Newcastle United and Sunderland and throughout the football season.

"Our partners have also been vital to the success of the Football NPT and they will continue to engage with football fans.

"However, we will continue to issue football banning orders to anyone who we believe have crossed the line when supporting their team."