That is the message from Hampshire Constabulary’s Strategic Commander Assistant Chief Constable who is leading the overall policing operation for the Carabao Cup tie between Portsmouth and Southampton.
In partnership with both clubs, a significant policing operation has been planned around this much-anticipated fixture, which sees the football clubs meet for the first time since 2012.
Since the draw at the end of last month, we have been working closely with the clubs, partner agencies and supporters’ groups to put plans in place to help ensure a safe and enjoyable match for all.
As a result of this fans may see different styles of policing than they would normally see at a football match, with specially trained officers around the ground wearing protective equipment to help keep you safe.
This is the largest ever football policing operation in Hampshire and the public will see a significant police presence in and around the city of Portsmouth and on September 24, offering reassurance to fans, as well as those living and working in the city.
We will be using various different tactics to keep people safe, with help from our dog units, the mounted section, roads policing, neighbourhood and public order teams on the ground, as well as our drones and colleagues from the National Police Air Service (NPAS) supporting from the skies.
Our dedicated football officers play a key part in all of this, drawing on the vast knowledge they have from policing matches for both clubs, home and away, every season.
On top of this, we’re working closely with our colleagues from British Transport Police on the train network, with Southampton Football Club, supporting their fan coaches travelling to and from the ground safely and with Portsmouth Football Club co-ordinating the safe arrival and departure of all fans
There will also be tactics that will not be visible, all designed to keep people safe.
Assistant Chief Constable Scott Chilton, pictured, said: “This derby is one of the most recognised fixtures in football and I know what it means to fans.
“This is the first time these two teams have played each other since 2012 so we want the fans to be able to enjoy this exciting fixture without worrying about their safety.
“We know the majority of fans want that too but sadly there are a small minority of people who will try and ruin it for everyone else.
“That is why there is a significant policing operation around this match, so we can act quickly to stop any disruption.
“We have been working hard with both clubs and other partners to put these plans in place, drawing on our vast experience of successfully policing big events such as this.
“The scope of the planning operation has been vast, looking to ensure we are using our best tactics to stop any disorder, whilst seeking to minimise disruption to the lives of those not heading to the match.
“We will have specialist teams deployed at various locations who are highly trained to deal with whatever they are faced with and we’re using technology such as drones to give us a good view of what is happening.
“We have also been working closely with supporters’ groups, understanding what their concerns are and how the work we and the clubs are doing can help fans feel safer so they can enjoy this game.
“I’d like to thank these fans for taking the time to work with us, their input is an important part of this operation.
“Our priority is public safety and our message is clear - any disorder will not be tolerated,
“For those fans who have any concerns on the night, go and speak to one of our officers, they are there for your safety.
“We want this match to be remembered for what happens on the pitch, not off it. Be passionate, enjoy the game and do your club proud.”
In support of both clubs, efforts will be made to ensure everyone is kept informed through announcements at the ground, via the social media channels of both clubs and via our social media channels.
Possible road closures
There are always parking restrictions around Fratton Park on match days. We have worked with Portsmouth Football Club and the council to see what more may need to be done for this match to help keep everyone safe.
The club have requested that the parking restrictions on Apsley Road, Frogmore Road and Carisbrooke Road are extended to include the whole of each road.
We also have the option if required to help ensure the safety of fans to close Goldsmith Avenue, from the junction with Priory Crescent to Fratton Road, incorporating Fratton Way, Rodney Road to Milton Road.
A closure could be put on at any time between 9pm and 11pm, so please be aware of the potential for some congestion around this area. In addition there will be a barrier on the corner of Specks Lane with Milton Lane.
We would like to make you aware of some of the measures which have been put in place today (Sept 24) to help ensure the safety of those going to the match tonight.
This is just one part of our operation where we aim to minimise disruption for the local community and allow fans to enjoy the match safely.
A Dispersal Order is in place for Southampton, Portsmouth and an area of Fareham – see maps below.
This has been made under the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 (Section 34)
Officers have the option of using these powers to disperse large groups of people or individuals if it is felt necessary to ensure people’s safety.
A Section 60AA of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1984 has also been put in place for these same areas.
If necessary, officers can use this to ask people to remove any face coverings.
These measures, which are in place until 2am on September 25, give a police officer the power to order a person to leave the area for a 48 hour period with no return or uncover their face. Refusal to comply with the order is a criminal offence.
We recognise the majority of people will just want to enjoy the game so please listen to any instructions our police officers give you.
Hopefully we will not need to use these measures, however they are there if we need them to ensure the safety of the public, which is our main priority.
As part of our ongoing policing operation to keep people safe as we approach the Carabao Cup tie this evening, we have authorised Section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994.
This will mean that officers will be able to stop and search people if they believe it is necessary for the safety of our communities.
The Section 60 will be reviewed at 2am on September 25 and can be used by officers in Southampton, Fareham, Portsmouth, including our colleagues from British Transport Police on trains.
Once again, this is just a precautionary measure so that it is in place if we need it. Hopefully it will not be necessary.