Portsmouth v Southampton for Carabao Cup set for 'biggest police football operation' in Hampshire
SWIFT justice will be meted out to hooligans hell bent on causing trouble when Pompey play Saints, a top police officer has said.
Speaking to The News ahead of the match, assistant chief constable Scott Chilton said Tuesday’s Carabao Cup third round game will see ‘biggest football policing operation’ in Hampshire.
Strategic commander Mr Chilton warned his officers have already paid visits to chattering hooligans planning disruption as the two sides are set to meet for the first time since 2012, insisting trouble ‘won’t be tolerated’.
Portsmouth will be swarming with police throughout the day ready to take action at the first hint of trouble, he said.
And in a direct address to fans heading to Fratton Park for the hotly-anticipated clash kicking off at 7.45pm, Mr Chilton said: ‘Go there, enjoy the game - that's what people want to do.
'If you go there with the intention of seeking trouble, the police are prepared to be able to respond to it.
'Ask yourself, is it really worth it?’
Drones, police mounted on horseback, specially-trained dogs, police helicopters, and traffic officers will be deployed. Public order units will be inside Fratton Park.
There are 2,000 Saints expected at the 21,100 capacity stadium.
Veteran match commander chief inspector Jason Kenny will be at the helm on Tuesday.
Mr Chilton added: ‘Everyone knows there's an intense rivalry between the clubs, tensions will be running high and some people are going to act in a way which is out of character.
'But potentially there will also be people wanting to cause trouble.
'Our policing operation we've put together is primarily to make people safe but also to make sure that if people do seek out trouble then it won't be tolerated and we'll deal with it.'
Police are not using a bubble operation previously seen in Blues and Saints matches where fans were only allowed on authorised coaches with police escorts.
But tomorrow officers will be lining Goldsmith Avenue ensuring safe passage for fans heading from Fratton station to Fratton Park.
Parking restrictions in Apsley Road, Frogmore Road and Carisbrooke Road will cover the entire road, not just sections of it as at normal games.
Road closures could be put in between 9pm-11pm if police decide to do so.
Mr Chilton added: 'There's going to be a really significant policing presence in Portsmouth throughout the day and we'll be using a range of different tactics.
'For instance we'll be using drones, we'll be using intelligence-gathering mechanisms, we'll have helicopters, we'll have police horses, we'll have dogs. All of that is about keeping people safe.'
People on football banning orders have been told not to turn up to matches or they will be 'back before the court,' Mr Chilton said.
Mr Chilton said: 'They'll want the intensity of the fixture, I totally understand that, I understand football.
'There will be people though who take it too far and there will be people who may actually want to cause disruption, cause trouble.
'Those people, some of which we've already been in contact with to tell them we're aware of that, and we'll deal with it.
'We police football in Southampton and Portsmouth every week.
'There are people out there that we know are the hooligan element and there are people out there that will be intent on causing problems.
'We've been having those conversations with them. We know who they are and it's important that we have those discussions to try and deter them.’
Mr Chilton said officers were aware of Pompey fan John Westwood being stopped from entering St Mary’s for an England game as he was wearing a Blues shirt. He said it did not take much to ‘escalate’ tension between the sides.