Sunderland v Middlesbrough match had one police officer for every 50 fans

The Wear-Tees derby was the most heavily policed football match in the Championship last season, it has been revealed.

Tuesday, 24th July 2018, 7:24 am
Updated Tuesday, 24th July 2018, 7:27 am
Nearly 600 police officers were on duty for the Sunderland v Middlesbrough game in February.

Northumbria Police put on a show of strength when Middlesbrough travelled to the Stadium of Light to take on Sunderland AFC in February.

In total there were 587 officers assigned to the clash - a ratio of one police officer for every 50 fans in attendance.

Middlesbrough fans leave the Stadium of Light after their 3-3 draw against Sunderland.

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And this level of police protection cost Sunderland AFC £55,413, figures from the BBC Shared Data Unit show.

Despite the huge police presence, the Stadium of Light was still almost half empty, with 40.7% of seats unfilled.

In the Premier League, the most heavily policed Newcastle United home game during the 2017/18 season was the Everton match on December 13.

Figures show there were 62 officers in attendance at that game, which in a packed out St James’s Park where more than 99% of seats were filled meant there was one police officer for every 858 fans.

Chief Superintendent Sarah Pitt, of Northumbria Police, said the figures were “quite misleading”, as different forces allocate policing differently across the country.

She said: “Our over-riding priority is to ensure the safety of the public, and decisions over policing levels at football matches are made based on a number of different factors to achieve that aim.

“With regard to the particular fixture of Sunderland versus Middlesbrough, this is a local derby which has historically resulted in the need for increased numbers of officers.

“However, the policing footprint at this fixture has reduced in recent years as a result of pro-active work undertaken with both sets of supporters.

“We have already praised fans in the North East for their excellent behaviour over the course of last season.

“Supporters in this region are among the most knowledgeable and passionate in the world, and we look forward to building on our healthy relationship during the upcoming 2018/19 campaign.”

Newcastle United

Heaviest policed match: vs Everton, December 13 2017, 62 officers, followed by Newcastle United vs Manchester United, February 11 2018, 61 officers.

Average charge to football club for policing: £7,787 per match.

Lowest attendance: vs Burnley, January 31 2018, 4.3% of seats empty.

Highest attendance: vs Liverpool/Manchester United/Manchester City/West Bromwich Albion/Chelsea, all 0.2% of seats empty.

Sunderland AFC

Heaviest policed match:  vs Middlesbrough, February 24 2018, 587 officers.

Average charge to football club for policing:  £13,374 per match.

Lowest attendance: vs Norwich City, October 4,  49.2% of seats empty.

Highest attendance: vs Leeds United, August 19, 36.3% of seats empty.

Laura Hill, Local Democracy Reporting Service