LAST October, following on from the publication of the Hillsborough Independent Panel’s report, the Independent Police Complaints Commission launched an investigation into allegations of police misconduct or criminal behaviour during the aftermath of the Hillsborough disaster.
This investigation is looking specifically at amendments to statements, the actions and conduct of South Yorkshire Police officers after the disaster, the role of West Midlands Police and those who investigated what happened at the time. This is the biggest investigation undertaken into police conduct in England and Wales and will be examining how West Midlands Police, the force appointed to accumulate evidence for Lord Justice Taylor’s inquiry and the subsequent inquests, conducted its inquiries.
As part of their investigation the IPCC is requesting that witnesses who were at Hillsborough and gave their accounts of the disaster to police at the time to come forward.
Thousands of members of the public gave witness accounts to West Midlands Police, either in writing, via telephone or in face-to-face interviews and the IPCC wishes to speak with these people to understand more about their experiences and the process they went through.
96 people died at Hillsborough on April 15th 1989 at the start of the Liverpool FC v Nottingham Forest FA Cup semi-final.
Deputy Chair of the IPCC, Deborah Glass, said: “The publication of the Hillsborough Independent Panel and the unstinting determination of the families and survivors of Hillsborough families and survivors has set in motion the biggest criminal investigation into police misconduct in the history of England and Wales.
“As part of this, we are looking for the help of those people who were at the game as we examine how West Midlands Police conducted its investigation into the disaster.
“We want to hear from anyone who contributed to that investigation. If you gave an account what was your experience? Do you believe you were given the opportunity to reflect your experience at Hillsborough?
“We are not underestimating how incredibly difficult it will be to revisit the traumatic events of 15 April 1989 for survivors. For many, it was the worst day of their lives. We also understand it will be difficult for many people to trust us, after being let down so many times.
“However, it is a tremendously important part of the investigation and we can only do this with the help of those witnesses.”
If you gave an account to West Midlands Police, the IPCC would like you to contact them using their dedicated online form at www.ipcc.gov.uk/hillsborough-witness-appeal. Those who don’t have access to the internet, or need assistance in completing the form, can call 0300 200 0003.
Another strand of the investigation, Operation Resolve, is looking at the events leading up to the match at Hillsborough, as well as the disaster itself, with a range of organisations to be investigated, including Sheffield Wednesday FC, The FA and South Yorkshire Ambulance Service.
More information about the IPCC’s Hillsborough investigation is available at www.ipcc.gov.uk/investigations/hillsborough.