Sunderland yobs attack police dogs

FOUR police dogs were injured as up to 40 Sunderland fans went on the rampage.

Police said the supporters were coming back from their team's friendly with Hearts in Scotland on Saturday when trouble broke out in Newcastle city centre.

The dogs were kicked and punched to the ground and stamped on.

Police are trawling through CCTV footage in a bid to bring the thugs to justice and ban them from future games.

Trouble flared at about 8pm on Saturday night.

A pre-planned police operation was in place to make sure fans were ushered safely from Newcastle Central Station, on to the Metro and back to Sunderland.

The operation aimed to keep the fans away from Newcastle fans in the area, but some Sunderland supporters turned violent.

Chief Superintendent Graham Smith, of Newcastle police, said: "We will not tolerate an assault on any of our officers or our dogs, and this behaviour was totally unacceptable.

"The fans arrived at the station intent on violence, and our dogs have never faced that level of assault before.

"Thankfully, although shocked, battered and bruised, none of them have been seriously injured, and all are now at home recovering. It's only through luck that none of them were seriously injured.

"An investigation is underway to trace these people and have them brought to task for their actions.

"There is no room for people such as this amongst the law-abiding football fans who go week-in, week-out to support their team.

"Therefore we'll also be progressing football banning orders against these violent individuals to ensure they don't spoil future games for the true supporters."

Three Sunderland fans from the group needed hospital treatment. Their injuries are not thought to be serious.

One arrest was made for drunk and disorderly behaviour.

Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 03456 043 043, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.