POLICE have praised football fans and the public for their cooperation and patience at today’s derby match between Newcastle and Sunderland.
The match, which Sunderland won with a late goal by Adam Johnson, was staged on the last weekend shopping day before Christmas when it is estimated 200,000 people visited Newcastle city centre.
Police say there were “a few minor incidents” and that they made 17 arrests for public order offences, assault, breach of banning order and drug offences.
All those arrested were taken into police custody.
That match was played without dedicated supporter trains being laid on from Wearside and no operation to march Sunderland fans to St James’s Park with a police escort.
This was replaced by a large police presence in the city.
Twenty six supporters’ coaches transported approximately 1,500 Sunderland fans from the Stadium of Light and back safely.
Other fans made their own way to and from the stadium.
Operations Commander, Chief Superintendent Steve Neill, said: “I want to thank the public for their patience and cooperation.
“It has been a very busy day but we are pleased that it has passed without any significant disruption or major incident.
“We have worked very closely with our partners to help keep both Newcastle and Sunderland city centres running as smoothly as possible.
“The vast majority of football fans were well behaved today and the Tyne-Wear derby was celebrated for the fantastic sporting event that it is.”
He added: “I’d like to praise supporters from both clubs. They worked well with officers on the ground, were extremely patient and good natured and treated the day in the best spirit.
“At the current time, there have been 17 arrests out of a capacity crowd of more than 50,000 people.
“Public safety is always our number one priority during any football match and the few people who chose to pose a threat to public safety were dealt with swiftly by police.”
Stephen Savage, director of public safety and regulation in Newcastle City Centre, said “Apart from some minor incidents the day appears to have passed successfully.
“It has been a great example of partnership working between the council, the police and other partners.
“I would like to pay tribute to both sets of fans who have supported their teams with passion and respect for each other.”