The Crown Prosecution Service will formally consider whether any criminal charges should be brought against individuals or corporate bodies over the Hillsborough disaster.
At the end of a two-year inquest, a jury found on Tuesday that the 96 people who were fatally injured at the stadium in 1989 were unlawfully killed.
The jury determined that supporters were not responsible for the disaster, caused when a crush occurred in the overcrowded Leppings Lane end of the stadium.
They also agreed that errors or omissions by police and commanding officers, in both planning and response, contributed to the loss of life, adding that engineers should have done more to highlight and rectify concerns over the safety features of the stadium.
Sue Hemming, Head of the Special Crime and Counter Terrorism Division at the CPS, said in a statement: “Following the inquest’s determinations the CPS team will continue to work closely with Operation Resolve and the IPCC (Independent Police Complaints Commission) as in due course, the CPS will formally consider whether any criminal charges should be brought against any individual or corporate body based upon all the available evidence, in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors.
“We would ask that everyone is mindful of the continuing investigations and the potential for future criminal proceedings when reporting or publicly commenting on the inquest’s conclusions.”
IPCC Deputy Chair, Rachel Cerfontyne, added: “The conclusion of the inquests is another milestone and a day when my thoughts are with the families and friends of those who died as a result of the disaster.
“Now the inquests have ended our role in providing documents and other material to support the Coroner is over. However, the end of the inquests does not mark the end of the process. Our attention now focuses on concluding our criminal investigation into the aftermath of the disaster. This is by far the biggest and most complex investigation ever undertaken by the IPCC.”
Jon Stoddart, the officer in charge of Operation Resolve, the criminal investigation into the deaths of the victims, expects his team to have concluded their work by the beginning of next year, after which the CPS will need to decide whether to prosecute.
“For the past two years, my team has supported the coroner, John Goldring, and provided him with thousands of documents, witness statements and reports to assist him in conducting these inquests,” he said. “While completing this task, my team has also been carrying out a criminal investigation.
“Now that the inquests have concluded my sole focus is on completing the criminal investigation which I expect will be finished by the turn of the year. It will then be for the Crown Prosecution Service to consider the evidence and decide whether any individual or organisation should face criminal prosecution.”