POLICE have revealed they are pleased with the jail sentences handed out to Pompey thugs for violent disorder ahead of the Plymouth match last year after confessing: ‘We wanted prison terms.’
Swift action from cops saved the day after intelligence sources revealed Pompey yobs were lying in wait to ambush their Plymouth counterparts ahead of the League Two match in April last year.
Over 100 extra police officers were drafted in at the last minute – costing the taxpayer £43,000 and Pompey £13,000 – as the authorities looked to stifle trouble ahead of the clash.
Jail terms for eight of the thugs along with suspended sentences for the rest of the eight yobs at Portsmouth Crown Court sent out a clear message that trouble will not be tolerated, police said.
Superintendent Kelly Whiting, who was lead commander of the operation ahead of the match, told The News exclusively: ‘It’s a really good result for the police and club after a lot of time and effort went into this.
‘On the day we had 100 officers because we thought there would be disorder as there traditionally is for this fixture. We also had intelligence saying there would be trouble.
‘The real work started afterwards when we had to review all the CCTV and body worn footage and take statements from officers. This took weeks if not months to review it all before we could bring charges.’
Supt Whiting revealed many of the hooligans have been plaguing the city for years but said things are much safer now. She said: ‘These are people who have been causing problems at Portsmouth Football Club for years and since we’ve taken them out there has been far less disorder.
‘It just shows that a handful of people that like to call themselves fans can cause real problems for the many who just want to go and watch a game.
‘There were families and children walking around Guildhall Square where most of this trouble happened so it’s also good for the public as we’ve been able to dampen violence. There’s hardly been any trouble at all since we caught those involved in this.’
Supt Whiting admitted it was scary to watch the tidal wave of violence unfold as she operated proceedings from the control centre. This involved using ‘dangerous tactics’ with dogs, horses and police in riot gear that is only used in exceptional situations.
She said: ‘I was frightened to watch it all – and I was only sat in the control room. I was having to make sure resources were being commanded correctly to make sure resources were in the right place and using the tactics that were proportionate and legitimate.’
Supt Whiting added: ‘We wanted prison sentences because this group has been disruptive for a few years now and they’ve had all the warnings they can possible have.
‘This will certainly solve the problem in the short term but whether it will in the long term is anyone’s guess.’