Sunderland and Newcastle United fans praised by police over arrest rates

The Northumbria Police Football Neighbourhood Policing Team spotters attached to Sunderland AFC.
The Northumbria Police Football Neighbourhood Policing Team spotters attached to Sunderland AFC.

Police have praised Sunderland and Newcastle United fans for their behaviour in the season which has just ended.

Northumbria Police today revealed that it made just 80 arrests - 43 from Newcastle and 37 from Sunderland - during the 2017-18 season, and handed out eight banning orders for bad behaviour.

Pc Paul Oley and Assistant Chief Constable Rachel Bacon at the Stadium of Light.

Pc Paul Oley and Assistant Chief Constable Rachel Bacon at the Stadium of Light.

The figures are very low when you consider that more than 1.5 million tickets were sold for Newcastle United and Sunderland AFC home games over the course of the season.

That equates to just one person arrested for every 18,000 fans who passed through the turnstiles.

Officers have worked closely with fans of both clubs since 2014 as part of the Football Neighbourhood Policing Team (NPT)

They attend fan meetings, invite supporters in to find out how they want to be policed and travel across the country so they have a local bobby at the away matches.

Both football clubs have also worked really closely with their dedicated officers to promote a safe match-day experience both inside and outside the stadium.

It has been a huge success, and in the last four years since the team was formed, disorder among our region's football fans has seen a steady decline.

Now the head of the Football NPT has praised supporters of both teams for their behaviour after a largely trouble-free season.

Sergeant Chris Blyth said: "It has been a very successful season from a policing point of view, and that has a lot to do with the supporters themselves.

"They have engaged with us, told us how they want to be policed and behaved themselves throughout the season. That has made it easy for us.

"There may have been contrasting seasons on the pitch, but in the stands there have been very few issues, and everyone has always been in good spirits.

"Our officers have worked hard to embed themselves with supporters, and at the end of the day they are football fans themselves who love being part of that atmosphere.

"They are there because they want people to enjoy the match day experience without getting themselves in trouble or putting other people at risk.

"We will be working hard throughout the summer to prepare ourselves for a new season with some new away days pencilled into the calendar.

"Our officers will be looking forward to making some new friends again next year and seeing some familiar faces out supporting their team with passion and pride.

It was in fact a youth fixture between the two clubs which saw the most trouble, with reports of criminal damage inside the Stadium of Light following the match on March 7.

A 16-year-old boy has already been handed a three-year banning order for his part in the disorder and an investigation will continue during the summer months.

Supporters are encouraged to follow Northumbria Police's football policing accounts on Twitter by searching the handles @NPNUFC and @NPSAFC.

Craig Cook and Pc Gareth Williams.

Craig Cook and Pc Gareth Williams.

Pc Brian Cantle has the responsibility for liaising with Newcastle United and their supporters, while Pc Paul Oley is the officer responsible for Sunderland AFC.

Mick Brown and Rachel Wearing at St James's Park.

Mick Brown and Rachel Wearing at St James's Park.

Football policing officer Nathan with young Newcastle supporter Alfie.

Football policing officer Nathan with young Newcastle supporter Alfie.