West Midlands Police Statement Ahead Of Local Derby
The West Midlands Police have issued a detailed statement ahead of the Aston Villa v Birmingham City local derby this Sunday.
West Midlands Police is encouraging Birmingham City and Aston Villa supporters to enjoy derby day and ensure it remains trouble-free this Sunday (23 April).
The game at Villa Park is the second league fixture between the clubs this season.
A visible police presence will be in place in and around the ground as part of policing plans to ensure the safety of the public.
Match commander Chief Superintendent Dave Sturman said: 'The first match of the season between the clubs at St Andrews last October passed without any major disorder and we are hoping that this weekend`s game will run even more smoothly.
'We will have a similar policing operation in place with a highly visible presence of officers and once again we will be deploying a drone which will enable us to monitor crowds and any flashpoints.
'Our 'eye in the sky` can fly up to 400ft and covers a wide area in a short amount of time capturing quality, high definition video in real time.'
Chief Supt Sturman added: 'The vast majority of supporters are well-behaved but there may be some who see the fixture as an excuse to cause trouble.
'We will not tolerate crime or violence which is connected to football. Anyone who is arrested for football-related matters may face the risk of a banning order which will prevent them from attending future fixtures.'
There will be a police and club search operation at the turnstiles to ensure pyrotechnic devices such as flares and smoke bombs are not taken into the ground.
Officers on the ground will also be wearing bodycams to capture trouble should it arise, but more importantly it acts as a deterrent as those intent on violence know their images will be recorded.
Plans for accessing and exiting the ground will cause some local disruption and may require different routes to be taken by some supporters. The disruption will be kept to a minimum.
Officers have worked extensively with both Birmingham City and Aston Villa clubs, and more importantly with both sets of supporters in preparation for the fixture.
Chair of the Football Supporters Independent Advisory Group Nick Reynolds, said: 'We work in close partnership with West Midlands Police to represent the views of football supporters, and are pleased to have been given the opportunity to offer advice and support for the planning of the second city derby this weekend. This has been one of the real positive outcomes of the Football Supporters Independent Advisory Group.'
The Football Supporters Independent Advisory Group was formed in September 2016 and is made up of representatives from all six main midland football clubs with the aim of working together with WMP`s football unit to improve relationships with football supporters, increase communication links and improve the overall footballing experience.
The group, hailed by the Football Supporters Federation as a model of best practice, has been involved in assisting police planning for local derbies and high profile fixtures. The success of the group has allowed for greater transparency and legitimacy in policing tactics but also an opportunity to really engage with supporters.
To follow the latest updates on accessing the ground, parking, road closures, pub/bar availability and much more follow @WMPVillaFC and @WMPBCFC
I do love these derby games but I also hate the negative attention it brings to our city. Hopefully this one goes off incident free, apart from on the pitch.