Police prepare for big cup clash

MORE than 100 police officers are set to hit the streets in preparation for one of the most potentially highly charged football matches in Essex for years.

MORE than 100 police officers are set to hit the streets in preparation for one of the most potentially highly charged football matches in Essex for years.

Next Tuesday, Second Division Colchester United host Division Three Essex neighbours Southend United in the southern area final of the LDV Vans Trophy.

More than 1,000 Southend fans are expected to travel to Layer Road for the derby, which has been classed as a Category C fixture - the highest on the police's danger scale.

Police said there was a history of violence between the clubs' fans with some prosecutions still outstanding from trouble that marred their last fixture - a friendly in August last year.


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At that game, pre-planned violence erupted at Southend's Prittlewell Station, which is away from the ground and highlights a growing feature of football hooliganism, according to one senior police officer.

Chief Insp Iain Logan, who will oversee Tuesday night's operation, said yesterday: "As CCTV became more sophisticated and comprehensive within grounds, hooligans moved their violence to the stadium peripheries.

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"But our policing tactics have put a stop to that, so they move further and further away."

He said that as a consequence, Essex officers would be working with British Transport Police colleagues to co-ordinate tactics on trains from Southend and at Colchester's stations and police dogs will also be deployed.

Officers will also be patrolling the town centre looking out known trouble-makers - there are currently six football banning orders in force on Colchester fans - and also at the Drury Arms, which is the closest pub to the ground in Layer Road.

Inside the old stadium, club stewards will mainly run things, but there will also be a police presence, the cost of which the U's will contribute to.

But despite the large operation Chief Insp Logan said: "It's always the minority who spoils things. Everyone hopes that the next day, the only thing people will be talking about is the match."

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