Protesters will be dealt with in a “speedy and robust” way if they try to disrupt the FA Cup Final, a senior police officer has said.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Ade Adelekan of the Metropolitan Police made the comments as he revealed 1,200 officers from three forces will be deployed to Saturday’s match at Wembley.
The Met and British Transport Police will join forces while specialist football officers from Greater Manchester Police who “know their fans” will try and prevent tensions between supporters of rivals Manchester United and Manchester City.
However, Mr Adelekan said there is “no intelligence” to suggest the fact the match is a derby will lead to a spike in violence.
He told PA news agency: “Anyone that comes to disrupt the FA Cup Final will be met with the same sort of response that we have had, which will be rather speedy and robust to make sure that actually we minimise any disruption to the FA Cup Final and prevent it if we possibly can, as well.
“We’ve got 1,200 officers situated in and around Wembley, we’ve got officers situated inside, those are the plans that we have.
“Protest is legal but protest that strays into criminal behaviour is illegal and will be met with the response that you have seen.
“People are likely to be removed and possibly get arrested.”
Earlier on Thursday, the England cricket team’s bus was delayed on its way to Lord’s by Just Stop Oil demonstrators.
Jonny Bairstow posted a photo on his Instagram story on Thursday morning, which showed protesters from the activist group and police officers in front of their team coach in the middle of a road in Kensington by England’s hotel.
However, there was no delay to proceedings in the one-off test against Ireland.
When asked about fan tensions on derby day, Mr Adelekan said: “We have got dedicated football officers from Greater Manchester Police who know their fans, there is no intelligence to suggest that (there will be significant violence) at all.
“We’ve got a significant amount of officers in place, we have been working with the FA, British Transport Police and Greater Manchester Police and a whole host of other partners just to make sure everyone has a safe and secure day.
“The plan starts tomorrow (Friday) because we are expecting people to come into town tomorrow.
“We also have a policing plan that is comprehensive for tomorrow as well.”
He told fans to plan their journey to and from Wembley in advance due to strikes by train drivers in a long-running dispute over pay and conditions.
Greater Manchester Police said it will take a “firm approach” to anti-social behaviour, but insisted officers are “well prepared” for the game.
Chief Superintendent Colette Rose said: “There will be a large police presence across the city of Manchester, as we always have for high profile matches, to ensure the safety of everyone.
“To the fans, please remember that you are representing Manchester.
“The match is not an excuse for antisocial behaviour and we will take a firm approach to anyone ruining the day for the real football fans.”