THE police watchdog today launched the biggest ever investigation into police in the UK – centred on officers’ conduct during and after the Hillsborough disaster.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said hundreds of officers could be implicated after reviewing the evidence contained in last month’s Independent Panel Report.
Individuals and organisations who buried the truth of Hillsborough for 23 years are now set to be brought to justice after two unprecedented investigations were announced today.
Read the full IPCC report here
Criminal charges – including manslaughter – could follow detailed investigations this morning announced by the IPCC and the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
The police watchdog said hundreds of serving and retired police officers at South Yorkshire police and West Midlands police are set to be probed into allegations of misconduct arising out of the findings of the Hillsborough panel report.
The DPP said it was to review all the fresh evidence to decide whether individuals or organisations alleged to have committed crimes should be prosecuted.
Fresh inquests into the deaths of the 96 fans who perished in the Leppings Lane crush now appear inevitable.
A seperate IPCC probe will be launched into disgraced police chief Sir Norman Bettison, over allegations he tried to influence West Yorkshire police authority over a referral it made to the watchdog in the wake of the report.
Deputy IPCC chair Deborah Glass today announced a dedicated Hillsborough team funded by the government will look into South Yorkshire police and West Midlands police, who led the initial inquiry into the 1989 disaster where 96 Liverpool fans died.
Key areas never before investigated include:
The tampering of police statements in a bid to shift blame from officers on to fans. The watchdog wants to know who ordered them, who knew about them and if pressure was put on junior cops to change their account.
The 17-page IPCC report states: “The alleged nature of some of the amendments may amount to the criminal offences of perverting the course of justice or misconduct in a public office. The deliberate alterations of statements may also raise misconduct offences in relation to honesty and integrity.
Who was involved into the lies spread by police to the press about the cause of the disaster. Again, the report says this may amount to criminal behaviour.
If there was police involvement in the coroner's decision to request blood alcohol samples from all the victims, and why a call was made to check the deceased against the police national computer to find evidence of criminal records.
The IPCC will also investigate the actions of officers in the gymnasium at Hillsborough, which was used as a temporary mortuary and South Yorkshire police's Wain report which again served to smear fans.
Ms Glass said a “large number of officers” would potentially be investigated. Two hundred officers at South Yorkshire police who were present on the day are still serving.
Ms Glass said: “The report revealed extremely serious and troubling issues for the police. Its contents provoked a demand for those responsible for the actions revealed in the report to be held to account.
“We have learned details of the run-up to the disaster including the unheeded warnings from previous incidents, the disaster itself, and its aftermath, including what appear to be attempts to distort the truth.
“The families have already waited for 23 years.
“I want to give them my assurance that we will do everything in our power to investigate these serious and disturbing matters with the careful and robust scrutiny they deserve.”
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