Britain’s Independent Police Complaints Commission have launched an investigation into officers involved in the Hillsborough disaster.
A crush at Sheffield Wednesday’s Hillsborough Stadium during the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest in 1989 led to the death of 96 supporters.
Police originally blamed drunken and ticketless fans for causing the disaster, but a series of subsequent enquiries, culminating in the findings of the Independent Hillsborough Panel released last month, have uncovered the extent of police culpability in causing the tragedy through mismanagement.
The independent panel also confirmed long-held suspicions that police collaborated to create a cover story, in which they shifted blame to Liverpool supporters, and fed misinformation to politicians and the media.
According to the IPCC, their investigation could lead to charges including manslaughter, perverting the course of justice and perjury.
South Yorkshire Police were referred to the commission following the release of the independent panel’s damning findings.
West Midlands police, responsible for the original, flawed enquiry into South Yorkshire Police’s conduct, referred themselves to the IPCC.
The actions of both police forces will be subjected to a full inquiry run in conjunction with the Director of Public Prosecutions.
The role of police in the dissemination of false information about fans’ alleged responsibility for the disaster is set to come under particular scrutiny, as is apparent negligence in treating the victims of the disaster.
The investigation will be the largest ever conducted into police actions in the United Kingdom.
Sir Norman Bettison, a chief inspector with South Yorkshire Police at the time of the disaster who later rose to the rank of chief constable, this week announced his intention to step down as the head of the constabulary.
Bettison, 56, was present at the disaster as an off-duty spectator, and provided assistance in the aftermath of the tragedy.
He is believed to have been part of a group of senior officers who allegedly met days later to form the cover story.
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