THE mammoth police operation put on for yesterday’s Wear-Tyne derby at the Stadium of Light has been hailed a success with the majority of fans behaving themselves, according to police.
Thirteen people were arrested at the ground for public order-type offences and seven people were being held following dawn raids ahead of the Black Cats’s victory.
The huge police presence saw a meticulous operation to separate the 50,000 rival supporters, with the majority of Newcastle fans arriving on chartered coaches and specially commissioned Metro trains.
As the Magpie fans arrived ahead of the game, there was some heckling between the opposing sides of supporters and at one point a firecracker appeared to be thrown in the crowd, startling police horses.
Following the game, Sunderland fans left the ground first, while Newcastle supporters were kept back until it was clear for them to make their way home.
Around 1,500 United fans were escorted to St Peter’s Metro station where they boarded trains and Metro services back to Newcastle.
Northumbria Police’s Chief Constable Sue Sim saw first-hand the work her officers put in as she watched on while the mass exodus of supporters left the ground.
Chief Superintendent Steve Neill said after the match: “The vast majority of fans were well behaved today and enjoyed the Wear-Tyne derby for the great occasion that it is.
“The policing operation went well and I’d like to commend the professionalism of all those involved.
“This was very much a partnership operation and the degree of planning that went into this large-scale operation ensured that genuine fans and families were able to enjoy the game in an atmosphere free of intimidation or violence.
“Twenty arrests out of a crowd of that size is very low. I’m pleased that the vast majority of fans who attended today were clearly there to enjoy the football and were not interested in causing trouble.
“I’d like to praise supporters from both clubs – they worked well with officers on the ground, were extremely patient and good natured and enjoyed the day in the best spirit. The holdback went very smoothly and supporters worked really well with police and stewards.
“Public safety is always our number one priority during any football match, and the few people who chose to pose a threat to public safety were dealt with swiftly by police.”
Men from Sunderland and Peterlee were among those arrested in early morning raids launched before the fixture.
The 5am strikes saw a total of seven men, aged 18, 19, 20, 26, 51, and two aged 57, arrested on suspicion of conspiring to commit violent disorder and breaching football banning order conditions.
Ahead of the game, police made a twitter appeal for both sets of supporters to help trace Daniel Moir, who went missing from his home in Washington last week.