Tyne & Wear

Tyne-Wear derby: Police prepare 'new approach'

Police surround Newcastle United fans
Image caption Police said they will employ a more "flexible" approach to Sunday's clash

Police are making final preparations ahead of Sunday's Tyne-Wear derby and say they hope a new approach will lead to less trouble.

Recent Newcastle United v Sunderland games have seen numerous arrests.

Northumbria Police said it was moving away from "containing supporters" to "find a more mature solution".

Sunderland fans were praised for their charitable donations in the wake of the MH17 air disaster in Ukraine, in which two Newcastle supporters died.

Supporters' groups have called for that goodwill to be maintained.

Unlike in previous seasons, visiting fans will not be escorted by police from Central Station to St James' Park.

'Passion not poison'

Ch Supt Steve Neill said: "There is a will to move forward with the derby and not have disruption to the city that creates scenes none of us want to see.

"We still want the derby to be passionate and intense, but we need less disorder and less disruption."

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Media captionEarlier in the month fans of the two clubs met in a pub to try to build goodwill

The city centre is expected to be particularly busy as people flock for one of the final shopping days before Christmas.

In February, smoke grenades were thrown as hundreds of Sunderland fans were escorted through Newcastle city centre with rival supporters kept apart by a heavy police presence around the stadium.

And more than 100 arrests were made in April 2013 amid chaotic scenes which included Newcastle fan Barry Rogerson punching a police horse. He was later jailed.

Barry Sweeney, father of United fan Liam Sweeney who was killed when flight MH17 came down in July, has called for a fans' truce.

He said: "I think it's about time we come and have a fun day, not a day where everyone gets het up about the match.

"I want to win as a Newcastle supporter, the Sunderland fans definitely want to win as well. You've got your passion, but you've got to keep the poison away from it."

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