Police are warning football fans travelling to Saturday’s eagerly anticipated derby match between Liverpool and Everton not to bring flares into the ground.
Match Commander, Chief Superintendent Jon Ward, said: “We are looking forward to Saturday’s match as it is always a lively and enjoyable affair. My officers will be dealing with the fans as they would expect to be treated themselves. Our policing style will be firm, fair and friendly.
“At the last derby, the behaviour of the majority of the fans was very good. We hope that, at Saturday’s match, they will continue to act as ambassadors for their clubs and for the City and enjoy what I am sure will be a good match.
“We work closely with the stewards and any inappropriate behaviour will be acted upon as we don’t want it to affect the enjoyment of genuine fans, especially younger fans, at the game.
“Over the last few months, flares, which can burn at extremely high temperatures, have been spotted at grounds around the country. As a precaution, measures including cordons around the stadium and specialist search dogs will be used to detect anyone in possession of fireworks or flares.
“As such, people attending Goodison are advised to arrive in plenty of time to gain entry to the ground because of the enhanced searching procedures taking place.
“In preparation for this game we have been working closely with both clubs and supporters’ groups who are all committed to making this a fun, safe and memorable match for everyone.
“We recognise that the majority of supporters are well behaved and do not endorse the use of flares at games. However, there are a small minority who, in the past, have put themselves and others in danger by throwing these items.
“If this behaviour continues then it will only be a matter of time before someone suffers a serious injury and we are working with clubs and stewards to do all we can to prevent such dangerous behaviour.
“Aside from the inherent dangers of using such devices, it is important to stress that it is a criminal offence to bring a pyrotechnic device into a football ground. Those convicted will more than likely receive a long football banning order (FBO), which means they would not be able to follow their club home or away.
“In September a 40-year-old Stoke fan received a FBO after igniting a smoke canister during a football match in Anfield in August.
“It is also an offence to attempt to bring a pyrotechnic device into a football ground. Earlier this year two Chelsea fans were jailed for 28-days for attempting to take smoke grenades into the Liberty Stadium during a game against Swansea City. I can assure you that anyone found to be carrying a pyrotechnic device will be arrested and dealt with robustly by the Force.
“Fans should ask themselves the question – is a little smoke worth a criminal record, FBO and even the chance of a jail term?
“We will continue with our efforts to deal with the small number of individuals who commit offences at football matches, in particular, with the continued use of FBOs”