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Police Hand Deliver Warning Letters To Fans Ahead Of Derby Game
Tuesday, 24th Sep 2019 08:36

Hampshire Police have hand delivered letters to fans of both Saints & Pompey ahead of the clash between the two clubs at Fratton Park this evening.

A number of Saints fans as well as Pompey fans have been given written warnings about their potential behaviour at tonight's game as Police seek to try and ensure the game goes off without trouble.

Police officers have hand-delivered letters to a targeted group of Saints supporters warning them that those who engage in violence will be prosecuted.

In the letter Hampshire Police said:

“We know what this match means to both sets of fans and we are working closely with both clubs to help make sure that the fans are able to enjoy this much-anticipated cup tie.

“Our priority, as always, is public safety and we are confident that we have a wide range of different tactics available to us to best tackle any disruption by those who are intent on causing disorder.

“The reason you have received this letter is because you have come to our attention as part of our proactive policing operation.

“Be advised that Hampshire Constabulary will seek to prosecute any persons who aid, abet, incite, encourage, counsel, instigate or personally engage in public disorder or violence.”

A spokesperson for Hampshire Police said the letters were one of “many different measures” the force was taking as part of its policing operation for the match.

The Police have already announced that this will be the biggest ever Police operation in the county.

A huge number of specially-trained officers will be on duty at Fratton Park, while horses, helicopters and even drones will also be used to help them prevent violence breaking out.

Assistant Chief Constable (AAC) Scott Chilton is leading the overall policing operation.

Asked about the possibility of trouble he said:

“The rivalry is intense and although the two teams haven’t played each other for seven years there’s always the potential for disruption.

“We have been working with both clubs and other partners to devise a very detailed police operation which is designed to ensure everyone’s safety.”

ACC Chilton went on to say that the previous fixture involved a Sunday lunchtime kick-off, whereas tomorrow’s game started at 7.45pm, with fans travelling to Fratton Park during rush-hour.

This is a strange thing to say as it seems to imply that the "Bubble method" was not being employed due to traffic on the M27 and not public safety and that is worrying.

At the previous two matches at Fratton Park in 2004 & 2005 trouble erupted both before and after the game on Goldsmith Avenue, the road from Fratton Station to the ground as Police struggled to get Saints supporters to the stadium with Pompey fans blocking the road.

Although the Police managed to hold their ranks they could not move the Pompey fans easily and what should have been a simple 15 minute walk took nearer 1 1/2 hours meaning that Saints supporters on the train missed the start of the game.

After the game it was a similar story with the escort back to Fratton Station coming under fire even after the police had spent an hour as Pompey fans rioted and wrecked anything from cars to bus stops.

It is very hard to see what the police can do differently this time around that they didn't do 14 years ago, back then they had the numbers, they had horses dogs and helicopters, ok they didn't have drones, but they are only a tool to enable the police to get intelligence on where opposing fans are gathering, you will not need a drone to tell you that this evening and it is likely that Goldsmith Avenue will once again see trouble.

Photo: Action Images

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bstokesaint added 13:31 - Sep 24
I do hope that trouble doesn't spoil what I suspect will be quite a game tonight, especially given the conditions. I just hope the Southampton team are up to the occasion and keep their heads. Going back to the policing isn't sending letters out to known troublemakers like handing them a certificate? At least I'm sure it is in their minds. I still think not having the bubble is a big mistake and that we're not ruing that this time tomorrow. Would much rather be discussing a well fought victory.

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