On the 15 April 1989, 96 Liverpool football supporters attended the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool Football Club and Nottingham Forest at Sheffield Wednesday’s ground – Hillsborough – and never returned home.
Men, women and children were fatally injured when a crush occurred as supporters made their way into the pens that held the away fans in the Leppings Lane end of the football ground.
For 27-years, the Hillsborough families fought for the truth about how their loved ones died. The Hillsborough Independent Panel published its report in to the disaster on the 12 September, 2012.
In the report, failings by South Yorkshire Police were highlighted, and how the police had blamed the Liverpool supporters. The Home Secretary, Theresa May called for a criminal enquiry to take place – Operation Resolve.
In reaction to the report, the original inquest verdicts of accidental death were quashed, and new inquests were commenced in March 2014, in Warrington. For over two years, Lord Justice Goldring and a jury heard evidence relating to how the fateful events unfolded on that sunny spring day back in April 1989.
On the 26 April 2016, the jury delivered its verdicts in answer to 14 questions set them by Lord Justice Goldring. The jury found that on the 15 April 1989, 96 men, women and children were unlawfully killed. They made clear that the behaviour of the Liverpool fans did not contribute to the deaths and that the ‘errors and omissions’ by the entire police operation on the day contributed to the causes of the disaster.
As a result of a Home Office Circular that provides for financial assistance for police officers involved in legal proceedings, financial support was granted by the first South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner in 2014. This was in respect of applications before and during the inquests fromr former Chief Superintendent David Duckenfield, former Superintendents Roger Greenwood and Roger Marshall, former Chief Superintendents Terry Wain and Donald Denton, former Deputy Chief Constable Peter Hayes and former Assistant Chief Constables Stuart Anderson and Walter Jackson. The total cost of financial support required from the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner during the Hillsborough Inquests was £24.7m, of which £20.4m was provided by the Home Office in Special Grant.
Following the verdicts, the former Chief Constable, David Crompton, was suspended by Dr Billings on the grounds of an erosion of public trust and confidence referenced in statements and comments in the House of Commons, along with public calls for the Chief Constable’s resignation from a number of quarters including local MPs.
Legal proceedings followed under Section 38 of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011, leading to a final decision by Dr Billings on 29 September 2016 to call for Mr Crompton to resign.
Mr Crompton issued judicial review proceedings and, on 9 June 2017, the High Court ruled that the decisions to suspend former Chief Constable David Crompton and later ask him to resign were unlawful.
In June 2017, on the conclusion of the criminal investigation, Operation Resolve, the Crown Prosecution Service announced that the match commander on the day of the Hillsborough disaster, former Chief Superintendent David Duckenfield, would face 95 charges of manslaughter and would stand trial along with five others. Charges have since been dropped against one of the former police officers. These criminal trials are expected to commence in 2019.
South Yorkshire Police (and West Midlands Police who were involved in investigations in the aftermath of the Disaster) have been notified of civil claims from the families who lost loved ones in the Hillsborough Disaster and others affected. The potential figures for resulting compensation and legal costs are reflected in the policing budget.