South Yorkshire Police got things ‘catastrophically wrong’ on the day of the Hillsborough disaster, says the chief constable, who today apologised to the families affected by the tragedy.
Speaking after the conclusion of the two-year inquest into the death of 96 Liverpool fans, David Crompton apologised and admitted the force had failed them and their families.
By finding that those who died were unlawfully killed, the inquests’ jury accepted that match commander David Duckenfield breached his duty of care to fans to such an extent it amounted to gross negligence and caused their deaths.
They found police planning errors ‘caused or contributed’ to the dangerous situation that developed on the day of the Hillsborough disaster. And they found there were multiple errors by commanding officers.
Speaking outside the force headquarters after the verdict, Mr Crompton said: “I want to make it absolutely clear that we unequivocally accept the verdict of unlawful killing and the wider findings reached by the jury in the Hillsborough inquests.
“On April 15, 1989, South Yorkshire Police got the policing of the FA Cup semi-final at Hillsborough catastrophically wrong.
“It was and still is the biggest disaster in British sporting history. That day 96 people died and the lives of many others were changed forever. The force failed the victims and failed their families.
“Today, as I have said before, I want to apologise unreservedly to the families and all those affected.”
There are two ongoing criminal investigations into the Hillsborough disaster –focusing on the tragedy itself and allegations of corruption in the aftermath – that are expected to be completed in December or January.
Mr Crompton added: “We will now take time to carefully reflect on the implications of the verdicts.
A statement from lawyers Burton Copeland on behalf of retired senior South Yorkshire Police officers, former deputy chief constable Peter Hayes, former assistant chief constable Stuart Anderson and former assistant chief constable Walter Jackson, said: “Following the announcement of the findings in the Hillsborough inquests, Peter Hayes, Stuart Anderson and Walter Jackson sincerely hope the families have found some solace and closure, following the tragic loss of so many loved ones.
Don Valley MP Caroline Flint said after the verdict was delivered: “After a two year Inquest and a 27 year wait, today has provided some justice for the 96 who died, 730 who were injured and their families, during this disastrous event.
“The jury have issued a clear decision that there were clear errors by the policing, in the plan for managing the crowd, on the day of the match, in the control box, and including the actions of the Commanding Officers.”