The Independent Police Complaints Commission [IPCC] have announced the launch of an investigation into a “large number” of officers regarding their conduct before, during and after the Hillsborough disaster.
The IPCC has revealed that the investigation could lead to criminal charges including manslaughter, perverting the course of justice and perjury.
South Yorkshire Police and then-chief inspector, Sir Norman Bettison, were recently referred to the commission, whilst West Midlands police, who led the subsequent botched investigation, put themselves forward.
And their actions in the period surrounding the disaster, including the attempted cover-up, will now be subject to a full inquiry run in conjunction with the Director of Public Prosecutions.
An IPPC statement claimed the Hillsborough Independent Panel’s recent report into the tragedy: “Raise[d] serious and troubling questions about the actions of many parties, individuals and institutions, both in the public sector and outside it. Some of the disclosures raise potential criminal offences.”
The role of police in the dissemination of false information about fans’ role in the disaster is set to come under particular scrutiny, as is the negligence which led to the deaths of 96 people.
The investigation, which will be the largest ever conducted into police actions in the UK, is set to cover two broad categories in particular.
They are summarised by the IPCC as: “Allegations that go to the heart of what happened at Hillsborough on 15 April 1989, that individuals or institutions may be culpable for the deaths.”
And: “Allegations about what happened after the disaster, including that evidence was fabricated and misinformation was spread in an attempt to avoid blame.”
Liverpool managing director Ian Ayre has welcomed the investigation, telling the club’s official website: “This is another significant step forward in the campaign for justice for Hillsborough families and survivors.
“We will follow the progress of this investigation and remain resolute in our support of the families and survivors as they continue with their battle to bring those responsible for the tragedy to justice.”
Bettison, 56, recently announced his intention to retire in March on a full pension, though his rights to that financial package would be withdrawn should he be found guilty of any criminal charges brought against him.