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Derby match hailed a success by police

PUBLISHED: 18:08 16 September 2002 | UPDATED: 12:39 03 March 2010

A MASSIVE police operation costing thousands of pounds was hailed as a great success after only four people were arrested before and after yesterday's East Anglian derby between Ipswich Town and Norwich City.

A MASSIVE police operation costing thousands of pounds was hailed as a great success after only four people were arrested before and after yesterday's East Anglian derby between Ipswich Town and Norwich City.

The day passed without any major outbreaks of violence, although two fans were arrested after a scuffle on the platform of Ipswich Station following the game, which kicked off at noon.

More than 300 police officers from Suffolk Constabulary and the British Transport Police were deployed around Ipswich Town's Portman Road ground, with a police helicopter hovering overhead, after fears of potential clashes between rival fans.

Fans were ushered in and out of Ipswich Station by British Transport Police after strong "indications" were received that potential troublemakers could converge there.

Special powers to stop and search fans arriving in Ipswich were used by the officers, which led to two people being arrested for possession of drugs.

The moves met a favourable response from fans.

Norwich City fan James Curson, 18, from Norwich, said: "At the end of the day everything they do is for a good reason. It is good to keep weapons out of football matches."

Ipswich Town fan Dean Godfrey, 23, from Chelmsford, said: "I think it is a good thing, especially if people are carrying offensive weapons."

British Transport Police worked in conjunction with Norfolk Constabulary to identify known troublemakers arriving at Ipswich Station.

Around 30 male Norwich City fans were held back from a group of around 500 that arrived on the 10.40am service from Norwich. They were identified by 'spotters' from Norfolk Constabulary and were given a special police escort straight to the ground.

After the match, around 100 officers supervised the area surrounding Ipswich Station, with around 1,000 Norwich City fans escorted to the station by a cordon of police officers. A group of around 30 Ipswich Town fans were prevented from entering the area while Norwich City fans boarded their trains.

Sergeant Bob Munn, of British Transport Police, said: "The operation has gone excellently. The integrated policing between Norfolk Constabulary and us worked very well.

"There is a long history between the two sets of supporters and there is a lot of animosity but the police cordons did their job."

He added: "Without doubt the potential for serious disturbances was very high. It was only avoided by the fair approach taken by all three police forces."

Four police dogs were on duty at the game, with an 18-month-old Rottweiler, named Thor, among them.

Pc John Shelley-Jones, a dog handler for the British Transport Police, said: "The dog reacts to any situation depending on what is happening. If he is threatened he will bite but obviously that is a last resort.

He added: "We were not required to do anything because it was very well policed. Although the dogs weren't required to do their business, they did do a lot of barking!"

Three fans were ejected from Portman Road following a mini pitch invasion after Ipswich Town's dramatic 90th minute equaliser.

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