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Liverpool Echo
Liverpool Echo
Patrick Edrich

South Yorkshire Police respond to Hillsborough 'failings' apology

South Yorkshire Police said it "recognises the immense pain and suffering" of its previous failings following yesterday's official apology.

Senior officers said police failures were the main cause of the Hillsborough disaster and apologised for "profoundly failing" the families in the decades since. Leaders from the College of Policing and the National Police Chiefs' Council made the statements as part of a national police response to the Right Reverend Bishop James Jones' 2017 report.

Ninety-seven Liverpool supporters were unlawfully killed as a result of a crush on the terraces at the Hillsborough stadium at the Sheffield Wednesday ground in April 1989. The police are the first major public body to respond to the report, which called for a "duty of candour" for officers who fail to cooperate with misconduct probes.

READ MORE: Police apologise for Hillsborough failures and for 'blighting lives' of families

Chief Constable Andy Marsh, College of Policing CEO, and Martin Hewitt, National Police Chiefs' Council Chair (NPCC), said: "Ninety-seven men, women and children were unlawfully killed. Police failures were the main cause of the tragedy and police failures have continued to blight the lives of family members ever since."

The 97 victims of the crush were found to have been unlawfully killed due to gross negligence manslaughter by the South Yorkshire police officer in command that day, Chief Superintendent David Duckenfield. Mr Duckenfield was charged with gross negligence manslaughter and acquitted in 2019.

Today, Wednesday, February 1 South Yorkshire Police responded to an ECHO request for comment. Chief Constable Lauren Poultney said: "South Yorkshire Police absolutely accepts the Hillsborough Families Report and the national police service response. We are fully committed to delivering the learning points raised and are signed up to the Charter for Families Bereaved Through Public Tragedy to ensure we deliver an honest, open and accountable response to such matters.

"We recognise the immense pain and suffering our previous failings caused the families and we remain determined to ensure those valuable lessons will underpin and inform our approach in the future."

When the ECHO asked the force if they would apologise following yesterday's announcement, South Yorkshire Police directed us to an apology from 2021. CC Poultney, who was Assistant Chief Constable at the time, said: "We offer an unreserved apology to those affected by the Hillsborough disaster and its aftermath.

"We acknowledge that serious errors and mistakes were made by South Yorkshire Police, both on April 15 1989 and during the subsequent investigations. Those actions on the day of the disaster tragically led to lives being lost and many being injured. The force’s subsequent failings also caused huge distress, suffering and pain, both to the victims and their families. This is something South Yorkshire Police profoundly regrets."

Alan Billings, South Yorkshire police and crime commissioner, said he also welcomed and accepted the report. Mr Billings also said he welcomes the Labour Party's commitment to supporting a Hillsborough law.

Today in parliament West Derby MP Ian Byrne reiterated his calls for the law and called the police's apology "far too little, far too late". But home secretary Suella Braverman's absence from the chamber was noted, with shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper branding it a "devastating failure of responsibility and respect".

Home Office minister Chris Philp said the government would engage with Hillsborough families moving forward and added it would look to make its own response to the Rt Revd's 2017 report "this spring".

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