POLICE are stepping up patrols ahead of tonight’s Wear-Tees derby.
Northumbria Police will draft in extra officers for the Capital One Cup match between Sunderland and Middlesbrough at the Stadium of Light.
They will be carrying out patrols in the city centre area and visiting bars and pubs during the run-up to kick off at 7.45pm.
British Transport Police will be monitoring rail services from Middlesbrough throughout the day and working with Durham and Northumbria Police to ensure travelling fans get to Sunderland safely.
The roads in and around Sunderland are expected to be busy tonight and fans are asked to give themselves extra time if travelling to the game by car or by public transport.
Middlesbrough fans travelling by supporters’ coaches are advised to be at The Riverside in good time.
The coaches will be escorted to Sunderland by officers in two convoys.
The first will leave the stadium at 5.30pm and the second at 6pm.
Operations Command Chief Superintendent Steve Neill, of Northumbria Police, said: “We’re looking forward to welcoming Middlesbrough supporters to Sunderland and hope they enjoy the match.
“We’ve been working closely with both clubs and their supporters, British Transport Police and other partners in preparation for the match and are expecting around 30,000 fans to attend the game.
“Our priority is to ensure the safety of supporters and to see that the match passes smoothly for fans and the wider community of Sunderland.
“There will be extra officers in the city centre and around the Stadium of Light and throughout the day we will be linking in with officers from Cleveland and BTP to ensure those travelling from Middlesbrough do so safely.
“We’ve been directing travelling supporters to use official coaches as much as possible due to a limited Metro service on the night and Middlesbrough fans coming by coach need to make sure they are at the Riverside stadium in good time.
“Traffic from Middlesbrough will be busy and the escorts have been planned on exact leaving times.
“On the night we need supporters to be patient, to listen to police and stewards and work with us.
“We’re working together to make sure everyone gets home safely.”