IAN HERBERT: The police apology for the Hillsborough disaster is too little, too late… It comes 34 years after the event, five years after a damning public inquiry, and it STILL misses the point.
It’s been 34 years since police officers went after despicable acts of deceit to cover up the incompetence that claimed the lives of 97 Hillsborough football fans, and five years since that same betrayal was spelled out in gruesome detail, in the conclusions of a comprehensive public study. query.
On Tuesday, the police chiefs found themselves in a position to apologize.
“Profound failures” were the words used to describe the conduct of the senior officers, in a carefully crafted press release by the national body of police chiefs.
Police chiefs apologized to the families of the victims of the Hillsborough disaster on Tuesday.
They admitted “profound failures” in a carefully selected press release.
It didn’t include the nasty little details of what those flaws looked like: the deliberate distortion of evidence by junior officers, which saw 164 statements substantially altered and comments unfavorable to police removed or changed in 116.
Junior officers were also expressly told not to record their experiences in their pocket books, the standard way of providing an accurate record.
‘Review and alter’ was the depressing police language for this process, undertaken by South Yorkshire Police Chief Superintendent Donald Denton and Peter Metcalf, a lawyer for the force’s legal representatives, Hammond Suddard. Neither has been prosecuted for an act designed to blame fans.
Ninety-seven soccer fans would lose their lives as a result of the tragic crush at Hillsborough in April 1989.
The police service could have taken action on this in 2012, when an independent Hillsborough panel delivered an excoriating report on the stadium disaster, after three long years of investigation.
It could have taken action in 2016, when new investigations condemned the conduct of police and others and found that fans were unlawfully killed due to grossly negligent lapses by police, among others.
But there always seemed to be some risk to the legal integrity of a case brought before the courts. No case against the police has produced a conviction. Only now apparently do they see the light.
The Rev James Jones (above), a former Bishop of Liverpool, said it was “intolerable” that there was no formal response from the government on its 25 essential recommendations published in November 2017.
All these years later, they have announced that the officers of the 43 forces of England and Wales will be trained in ‘directness’. As if that were not an essential requirement for every individual who puts on a uniform to maintain legality and, in the football field, the safety of people.
The Rev James Jones, the former Bishop of Liverpool who served on the independent panel, found in 2017 that surveillance still required a change in “attitude, culture, heart and mind” to avoid a “condescending disposition of irresponsible power “.
He watched as the never-ending resolve and persistence to seek justice required by the grieving families of Hillsborough demonstrated something unsettling in the heart of our country. Just like authorities who ‘spend unlimited sums’ on representation. The Grenfell families would also relate to that, Jones noted.
There has been no government response to his findings in the five years since he completed that report, commissioned by Theresa May when she was Home Secretary.
On Tuesday, he described the government’s lack of response as “intolerable” to the families of the victims, many of whom are campaigning for a “duty of frankness” to be enshrined in law.
That would immediately put an end to families having to fight state and police embezzlement.
When non-compliance becomes a criminal offense, recidivism and obfuscation soon cease. Wouldn’t police chiefs want to see a law like this? They conveniently forgot to mention it.