Families sorrow as police finally apologise 34 years after Hillsborough tragedy killing 97


Bereaved families who lost loved ones at Hillsborough almost 34 years ago have had their “pain and suffering” acknowledged by the chair of the National Body for Police Chief Constables in a long-awaited apology. Martin Hewitt, Chair of NPCC, made the apology at the launch of a report outlining senior police officers’ commitment to learning from the disaster and preventing future tragedies.

As part of these efforts, every police force has signed a charter in 2021 that requires “openness” and “candour” in acknowledging mistakes following a public tragedy, and not “defend the indefensible.”

Chief executive of the College of Policing, Andy Marsh said: “Policing has profoundly failed those bereaved by the Hillsborough disaster over many years and we are sorry that the service got it so wrong.

Police failures were the main cause of the tragedy and have continued to blight the lives of family members ever since.

“When leadership was most needed, the bereaved were often treated insensitively and the response lacked co-ordination and oversight.”

He said: “The changes include all police forces in England and Wales signing up to a charter agreeing to acknowledge when mistakes have been made and not seek to defend the indefensible; a strengthened ethical policy which makes candour a key theme, and new guidance for specialist officers supporting families during a tragedy, which learnt lessons from the Hillsborough Families Report, the Grenfell Tower tragedy and the 2017 terrorist attacks.”

Mr Marsh, who was born in Liverpool, said: “What we’re talking about is cultural change and cultural change takes a long time, but my goodness we have started.”

He said new recruits will study the report into the experiences of the Hillsborough families.

Ninety-seven football fans died as a result of a crush at the Hillsborough ground in Sheffield on April 15 1989.

He said: “What we have really focused on is doing that which is really within our power. The issue of candour is very clear within the charter for bereaved families and it will be incorporated explicitly in the review of the code of ethics.”

Mr Marsh added: “We have been robust as possible and it’s for Parliament to make any legislation that they feel is necessary.”

Speaking to BBC Breakfast on Tuesday, Mr Jones said it is “intolerable” for the victims’ families that there has been no full Government response to his report.

He said: “This year it will be 34 years since the tragedy, and for them to wait for so long for a response to these 25 points of learning is intolerable and adds to their pain and, I think, in some instances even affects their own grieving.”


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