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Police are gearing up for one of the biggest football operations ever seen in Hampshire - Pompey take on Saints on Sunday.
Hampshire Constabulary is working closely with Portsmouth and Southampton football clubs to ensure that this coming Sunday's (December 18) derby match between the two teams is a safe and enjoyable event for all.
Around 250 officers will be on duty this weekend as the south coast teams face each other for the first time in three seasons. The policing operation is focussed on ensuring the safety of all those attending the match and that peace and safety is kept for all members of the community around Fratton Park.
"We want this to be a great match for everyone to enjoy and will be working with the fans to give the event the family atmosphere it deserves by making it a safe event," said Superintendent Rick Burrows. "We know that some fans have been frustrated by the condition of coach travel to and from the ground for away supporters, and I would like to thank supporters for their understanding.
"It is an unusual step to impose, but one we feel is necessary to provide us with the greatest chance of mitigating the risk of violence or trouble between the two sets of fans. It is only a small minority that cause trouble, but history of previous derby fixtures shows us that unless the crowds are kept completely apart, violent confrontations always occur - and that is simply unacceptable.
"By having this sterile area and escorted coach travel, we are providing the least intrusive restriction which allows away fans to safely enter and exit the ground. Instead of spreading our resources thinly across the city to try and pick up groups coming in from all over the place, we can actually concentrate our officers on dealing with and safeguarding football fans and public alike in one place.
"We know that this measure is not popular, and do understand that. We hope in return that supporters can understand that it would not have been imposed if we did not think it was necessary, balancing the rights and freedoms of football fans against the wider rights of all fans, stewards, police and non-football attending public to not be exposed to the vile behaviour and violence that has seriously affected previous derbies.
"This tie being played the last weekend before Christmas gives this an extra special edge and we hope that all fans enjoy the match peacefully and in the spirit of goodwill. Anyone breaking the law will be dealt with robustly. We won't tolerate behaviour which interferes with the enjoyment of the sport loving majority. Safety is absolutely paramount."
Local residents affected by road closures and diversions on match day have been contacted by local officers who continue to engage with the community close to the ground, to ensure that the impact on them is minimised.
The following roads will be closed from from 10am to 4pm:
*Rodney RoadAnson RoadSpecks LaneAlverstone Road (to non-residents)
*Vernon Avenue (to non-residents)
Rumours have been circulating on social media networks that the Eastern Road will be closed throughout the day - this is not the case. The traffic management plan will be in place throughout Sunday and if there are any other issues which may affect people in this area will be released throughout the day on Sunday via Twitter.
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