Police apologize for Hillsborough Disaster, and admit negligence
British police have issued an apology for their role in the Hillsborough disaster in 1989 which left 97 football fans tragically dead. It is the first time that the police have apologized for the disaster and the way the families of the victims were treated. The apology comes six years after a 2017 report led by James Jones documented a poor police response to the tragedy. Jones also worked on a 2012 report that revealed police irresponsibility in the incident.
A total of 97 people were killed and over 700 fans were injured in this horrific incident. The disaster took place before an FA Cup semi-final match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest. Despite early suggestions that hooliganism was to blame for the tragedy, local police were directly involved in the incident.
David Duckenfield, the police officer in charge during the game, wrongly ordered a gate to be opened in an attempt to alleviate overcrowding. The move, however, proved fatal as hundreds of people were crushed in the process. The match officials obviously abandoned the match and it was replayed at a different location.
However, Duckenfield and his police colleagues blamed Liverpool fans for the disaster in order to deflect the blame away from themselves.
Police official admits failing victims and their families
College of Policing chief executive Andy Marsh issued a statement of apology regarding the situation. “The police service has left those bereaved by the Hillsborough disaster deeply down for many years and we are sorry the service got it wrong,” Marsh said.
“Police failures were the primary cause of the tragedy and have continued to blight the lives of family members ever since. When leadership was needed most, the bereaved were often treated callously and the response lacked coordination and monitoring.
The police are also making changes within the system
Marsh also claimed that changes will occur within the police system, including a new code of conduct. “The changes include all police forces in England and Wales signing a charter agreeing to acknowledge when mistakes have been made and not seek to defend the indefensible; a strengthened ethics policy that makes candor a key theme, and new guidelines for specialist officers supporting families during tragedy,” Marsh said.
No one has ever been convicted in connection with the Hillsborough disaster. Duckenfield had previously been charged with gross negligence manslaughter for his actions, but was acquitted in 2019.