MORE than 200 officers were involved in policing the Wrexham versus Chester derby match, it has been revealed.
The game, on August 31, saw a high profile police operation to prevent trouble at what was the Conference’s first ever ‘bubble match’.
A Freedom of Information request submitted by the Leader has revealed that a total of 222 officers helped to police the game, including special constables and PCSOs.
Specialist units including air support, road policing, dog handlers, police support and evidence gathering teams were also deployed to the first cross border derby in four years, which resulted in a 2-0 victory for Chester FC.
Feelings were were running high before the match when two banners – understood to refer to two men from Chester, one a 21-year-old, who died in 2012 and the other a 23-year-old who died in 2002 – were unfurled in the home stand.
That sparked violent scenes with a smoke bomb being thrown from the visitors’ end and some people ripping out seats before throwing them towards those holding the banners.
The police later vowed to catch those responsible and so far 22 people have been arrested, with four being charged and the remaining 18 released on conditional bail.
North Wales Police said they were currently unable to reveal the costs of policing the game while the force awaits expenses and overtime forms.
But they said the majority of their officers were not working on overtime during the game.
They said Wrexham FC would be billed £3,400 to cover part of the costs with Chester FC not incurring any costs.
Both before and after the game fans of both teams criticised the level of policing as ‘over the top’.
The highest number of police inside The Racecourse ground stood at 85 officers and the lowest was 16.
North Wales Police described the measures taken as ‘proportionate’.
A police spokesman said: “The resource levels were determined in consideration of the threat of disorder before, during and after the game.
“This took account of the experience from previous games between the two clubs, recent behaviour of supporters of both clubs and specific intelligence that demonstrated an intention to engage in disorder.
“This included intelligence that travelling supporters would be confronted/attacked.
“During the operation there was a concerted attempt by supporters from Wrexham to confront Chester supporters before the game, where the sheer number of individuals who were part of this required a significant policing presence which was proportionate to keep order and protect the safety of the public at large.
“During the game there was continued hostility and indeed a steward from Wrexham FC was injured while trying to deal with violent supporters.
“Police officers were also subject to coins being thrown at them.”
The spokesman added that one officer received minor injuries after being assaulted inside The Racecourse ground.