Major police operation planned for Leicester visit

05 August 2011 09:23
Violence and hooliganism will not be tolerated As the city of Coventry gears up for the opening game against Leicester City of the new season on Saturday, police have warned fans that hooliganism and violence will not be tolerated. In order to prevent a repeat of the violent clashes that have marred previous encounters between the two sides, a major police operation is planned involving over 130 officers from three forces. Leicester City have sold over 6,000 tickets for the game and a crowd in excess of 20,000 is expected at The Ricoh for the 12:30 kick off. The early kick off is designed to help prevent the risk of an alcohol fuelled confrontation between the rival sets of supporters and done at the request of Coventry City FC following discussions with the police and the FA. The man in who has been give the responsibility of keeping order at the event is the match day policing commander, Inspector Malcolm Prestwich, said, “Our clear message to any potential troublemakers is that in Coventry we will not hesitate to deal with you robustly." “We will be very proactive in tackling any potential disorder and would remind anyone intent on causing trouble that they may be liable to arrest and football banning orders.” Around 70 officers from the West Midlands will be joined by about 60 of their colleagues from Leicestershire, Coventry and the British Transport Police. A spokesman for the West Midlands Police Force football unit, Pc Dave Mapp, said, “We will have a large away fan contingent and we are expecting a 20,000 crowd, so there will be a solid police presence to see this operation goes through smoothly." “We are working with constabularies in Warwickshire and Leicestershire, as fans will be travelling through these areas and we will also be working with British Transport Police to make sure everyone gets to the game safely.” There have been unfortunate incidents in the past involving rival fans of the two clubs and in 2008 fighting erupted outside the City Arms public house, Earlsdon between hooligans  from both Coventry and Leicester. Many innocent families and members of the public were caught up in the violence and were forced to take refuge while police restored order. The resulting investigation, codenamed Operation Closedown was the largest football related violence investigation ever undertaken  by the Coventry Police. It led to several dawn raids and prosecutions after CCTV images showing groups of men armed with a variety of objects, including pool cues and balls being used for fighting each other, were released to the public The investigation led to 36 people being taken to court and all were given banning orders. Inspector Prestwich concluded by saying,“While we do not anticipate any specific problems this weekend, we are, of course, aware of local rivalries and of a minority hooligan element in football who try to spoil things for the majority of law-abiding people.”


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