Police gear up for big match
IPSWICH is today gearing itself up for the biggest policing operation of the season as Sunday's crunch game against Cardiff City looms.At least 350 officers will be on duty for the match in a bid to prevent trouble.
IPSWICH is today gearing itself up for the biggest policing operation of the season as Sunday's crunch game against Cardiff City looms.
At least 350 officers will be on duty for the match in a bid to prevent trouble. They will be aided by 16 mounted officers from the Metropolitan Police, dog handlers, four police support units in riot gear, along with the Suffolk force's helicopter which will be used as an observational deterrent.
Despite the massive police presence the game is sure to be played out against the backdrop of a volatile atmosphere. Ipswich fans will be on tenterhooks as their team bids for Premiership status, while a notorious hardcore of Cardiff fans will bring with them a reputation for creating mayhem on the last day of the season.
The man responsible for keeping a lid on the highly combustible mix of apprehension and menace is Superintendent Carl Puiy, the match-day commander.
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Supt Puiy is optimistic meticulous planning will reap dividends and the game will pass off peacefully.
He said: "It is a large operation. Although it is not on the scale of the England game in August, it's certainly a larger operation than we had for the Norwich game.
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"We are expecting somewhere in the region of 1,500 Cardiff fans to come down. Every match is looked at from an intelligence perspective. We have looked at what has happened over the rest of the country and the problems the police have faced. We have also looked at the end of season factor because the end of a season is always a little bit different.
"All of these factors have meant we are being very careful with this game, much along the lines of the England match. Our resources cater for every eventuality.
"A successful day will be if the fans see good football, Ipswich win and everyone goes home having enjoyed the occasion in a peaceful, carnival atmosphere."
All the fans travelling from Wales are expected to come by road. Some in cars, others in mini-buses, but most by coach.
Supt Puiy said the policing operation will involve meeting the coaches on the outskirts of the town and escorting them into Ipswich flanked by motorcycle outriders from Suffolk police's traffic unit.
As is customary the away fans will be allocated what are likely to be two specific pubs in the town to drink in. These will be closely monitored by police. Officers will then take supporters to the ground.
Suffolk police are taking no chances with Cardiff fans following trouble during and after their games at West Ham and Sheffield United this season.
Supt Puiy also asked home fans to be patient when the game ends, while the Cardiff supporters are shepherded back to their coaches. He said: "After the match we would ask the fans in the Cobbold stand for their assistance in that they will not be able to turn right and are going to have to exit left from the ground."
Only a few away supporters are expected to travel by train. They are likely to be few in number, representing Cardiff's London-based following.
As a precaution the British Transport police said they have also drafted in officers from other areas.