Police chief pledges derby day ‘will be safe’

.
.

A POLICE chief has pledged that they will work to make sure tomorrow’s Tyne-Wear derby will cause minimum disruption.

Extra officers will be on duty in South Tyneside as Newcastle United and Sunderland go head-to-head from 1.30pm.

Much of Northumbria Police’s plans for the day are focused on Newcastle city centre, with more than 200,000 people expected to visit on the last Sunday before Christmas.

Police are also set to be present in South Tyneside, as well as the Metro stations in the area.

Steve Neill, chief superintendent of Northumbria Police, said: “The plan is quite comprehensive, and it covers from Sunderland across all the transport route and into Newcastle.

“We will have more officers on duty for the derby than ever before.

“They will line key routes, and also be present on Metro stations, and on the trains themselves.

“Areas like Gateshead and South Tyneside are always very much part of the operation.”

Police have opted not to put on designated Metro trains for Sunderland supporters, while the usual police escort for fans will not be in place to get them to St James’s Park from Newcastle Central Station.

Chief Supt Neill says he is confident the day will be safe for all concerned, while the impact on the transport system is as minimal as possible.

He added: “We think, from meetings with fans’ groups, both clubs, the local authority and transport services, that this is the best way to go about things.

“The message to supporters is that it is going to be a safe event, but they should think about travel arrangements and ensure they leave plenty of time for their journey.

“Sunderland are also putting on free coaches and they will be escorted by police from the Stadium of Light to St James’s Park.

“We have tried not to dictate to supporters, and rather give them options. It is entirely a matter for individuals if they want to get to the game in a private vehicle or by getting the Metro.”

Sunderland supporters will also be held behind at St James’s Park for a short period after the match to allow the surrounding area to clear.

Twitter @shieldsgazette