LONDON: Chief Constable David Crompton, who in the wake of the Hillsborough verdict, apologised for the conduct of the South Yorkshire Police, has been suspended in the wake of the inquest jury’s verdict of unlawful killing.
Crompton’s force had been heavily criticised for its conduct not only on the day in April 1989 but in the 27 years since and right through over its stance during the inquest.
Later reports emerged that new Acting Chief Constable, Dawn Copley, had stepped down because she was already the subject of a complaint of “corrupt practice” by another officer while Assistant Chief Constable at Greater Manchester Police.
As for Crompton, Dr Alan Billings, the police and crime commissioner for South Yorkshire, would make no further comment about the suspension decision.
It followed criticism from Shadow Home Secretary Andy Burnham that there had been a “27-year cover up” and “those responsible must be held to account”.
On Tuesday a jury concluded the 96 victims of the 1989 Hillsborough disaster had been unlawfully killed.
Compton had apologised in 2012 for the conduct of the South Yorkshire Police, but the coroner, Sir John Goldring, ruled that to admit the apology as part of the two-year hearing, would ‘wrong’ and ‘highly prejudicial’.”
The chief constable issued a further apology after the inquest’s conclusions were heard on Tuesday. He admitted his force got the policing “catastrophically wrong” on that fateful day.
Crompton said: “I want to make it absolutely clear that we unequivocally accept the verdict of unlawful killing and the wider findings reached by the jury in the Hillsborough Inquests.
“On April 15, 1989, South Yorkshire Police got the policing of the FA Cup semi-final at Hillsborough catastrophically wrong.
“It was and still is the biggest disaster in British sporting history. That day 96 people died and the lives of many others were changed forever. The force failed the victims and failed their families. Today, as I have said before, I want to apologise unreservedly to the families and all those affected.”
The continuing anger of the victims’ families was exacerbated after a note appeared advising retired South Yorkshire Police officers who served in the 1980s that they “did a good job”.
The former officers were told they had tried to act with dignity while “bile and hatred” had been directed towards the force, which faced “immense challenges” in the 1980s.
The message from Rick Naylor, secretary of the South Yorkshire National Association of Retired Police Officers, appeared on the organisation’s website although it was not intended to be made public, according to the BBC.
Naylor said members would be feeling “sore, angry and disheartened” by the criticism and highlighted the force’s success in catching the Yorkshire Ripper. He added: “You did a good job – we all did,” he added.
The message, which has since been removed, said: “Mistakes were made and we would all like to turn the clock back.”
It added: “There were many examples of outstanding actions and selflessness by police officers on that tragic day as they did their best to deal with the disaster unfolding before them.”
Naylor said the comments were not meant to offend.