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Police horse recovering after being 'punched' by football fan

A POLICE horse who was attacked when football fans clashed following a Tyne-Wear derby is taking a well-earned rest before he goes back on duty on Thursday, officers said today.

Bud, of West Yorkshire Police's mounted section, was controlling crowds at the Newcastle versus Sunderland match on Sunday when a fan allegedly tried to punch him.

A total of 29 supporters have now been arrested after sporadic violence spread across Newcastle city centre.

Video footage of the skirmishes showed crowds picking up empty glass bottles and throwing them towards police.

Pictures and video also emerged of a man apparently swinging for the shire-cross, who has been with West Yorkshire Police for seven years.

But Bud's alleged attacker was wrestled to the ground by officers and Northumbria Police today said he has been bailed pending further inquiries.

Three police officers were also injured during clashes with Newcastle fans after the side's 3-0 defeat at St James' Park.

Inspector Trevor Thackray, of West Yorkshire Police's mounted section, said today: "We are pleased to say that Bud is totally fine and resting up after Sunday's eventful operation in Newcastle.

"Our police horses are used to dealing with all types of disorder so, while the images on the news may have looked shocking, Bud wasn't hurt and his regular training ensures that he his acclimatised to this type of situation.

"The West Yorkshire Police mounted section is a well-regarded unit and our horses and officers are hugely experienced, so Bud will be back on the streets the next time duty calls."

The force tweeted messages confirming Bud was unhurt following queries from concerned members of the public.

A West Yorkshire Police spokesman said Bud was known for his "inquisitive personality" and added: "He loves food and kisses.

"He makes a good police horse as he is very trusting of his riders and adapts well to the training that he's put through. He's now on rest days but will be back on patrol on Thursday."

Yesterday, Chief Superintendent Steve Neill, of Northumbria Police, said action would be taken against those involved in the disturbance.

He said: "The vast majority of fans were well behaved today and enjoyed the Tyne-Wear derby for the great occasion that it is.

"Disappointingly, there was some disorder involving what appear to be Newcastle United supporters following the match in the city centre, including an incident at Central Station."

West Yorkshire Police has 18 horses in its mounted section, which it uses to police football matches up and down the country and for ceremonial occasions, according to the force's website.

Bud has policed many football matches and recently helped with crowd control at an English Defence League demonstration, the force added.

"Embarrassed and appalled" Newcastle United bosses vowed to ban for life anyone found guilty of being involved in the city-centre trouble.

A spokesman said: "We were embarrassed and appalled by the behaviour of a minority of so-called fans who last night were involved in disturbances and disorder in Newcastle city centre after the match.

"Newcastle United have been working with Northumbria Police, and will continue to do so, in order to identify all of the individuals concerned.

"The club will take the strongest possible action against those involved in the disturbances and will impose immediate lifetime bans on all those found guilty.

"These deplorable individuals have no place at Newcastle United and bring shame on the club and the vast majority of its proper, law-abiding, fans."

British Transport Police said three of its officers were injured in the Newcastle trouble which saw yobs hurl missiles.

It said four Newcastle fans were arrested for offences including violent disorder and being drunk and disorderly.

A spokesman said: "The disorder also saw three BTP officers injured: a female officer was taken to hospital after a brick was thrown at her shoulder, a male officer was left with a black eye after being elbowed in the face and a male sergeant received facial and leg injuries after being struck by thrown ballast.

"Some minor injuries were also sustained by members of the public during the disorder."

BTP officers made 36 football-related arrests over the weekend involving fans from five different clubs.

As well as trouble involving Newcastle and Millwall, BTP arrested Watford fans at King's Cross after a game at Peterborough, and Manchester City and Chelsea fans following their FA Cup semi-final.

On Saturday, six Millwall fans were held at Wembley Park station for offences including affray, theft of police equipment, racially aggravated and public order offences and being drunk and disorderly.

At King's Cross, 11 Watford fans were arrested, one of whom was held for possession of cocaine.

On Sunday, four Manchester City fans were held at London stations for offences including racially aggravated public order, assaulting a train conductor and possession of drugs.

Four Chelsea supporters were arrested at Wembley Park for offences including common assault and racially aggravated offences, and three more were held in Milton Keynes for public order offences and being drunk and disorderly when a late service from Euston arrived last night.

BTP Chief Constable Andrew Trotter said: "This was a very busy and, at times, very testing weekend of football policing.

"I'm extremely proud of my officers who, alongside colleagues from local police forces, stood firm in the face of some truly difficult situations.

"This was most apparent in Newcastle on Sunday, where three BTP officers were injured in the line of duty. None, I'm glad to say, were seriously injured.

"Nonetheless, the vast majority of the matches we helped police passed without incident and that's testament to the enormous breadth and scale of our operation, as well as the meticulous planning that goes with it.

"In recent years, police, football clubs and other partners have made great strides in tackling the problem, and we've seen enormous reductions in offences thanks to a combination of robust policing and the banning of troublesome individuals from attending matches.

"This weekend saw at least 36 football-related arrests on the rail network, and the troublemaking minority were dealt with swiftly and robustly.

"However, the scenes at Wembley Stadium on Saturday and in Newcastle on Sunday serve as a firm and sobering reminder that there is still much more to be done in tackling football-related disorder."

PA Media