Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

The Truth about Hillsborough Shames the Police ; EXCLUSIVE: TOP OFFICER ON DISASTER COVER-UP...AND WHY ATTITUDES ARE VERY DIFFERENT TODAY TO 23 YEARS AGOWRITES GMP CHIEF CONSTABLE WRITES GMP CHIEF CONSTABLE SIR PETER FAHY SIR PETER FAHY

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

The Truth about Hillsborough Shames the Police ; EXCLUSIVE: TOP OFFICER ON DISASTER COVER-UP...AND WHY ATTITUDES ARE VERY DIFFERENT TODAY TO 23 YEARS AGOWRITES GMP CHIEF CONSTABLE WRITES GMP CHIEF CONSTABLE SIR PETER FAHY SIR PETER FAHY

Article excerpt

WHEREVER you were as a police officer in 1989 you feel some degree of shame at the recent revelations regarding the Hillsborough disaster.

At that time I was an inspector in Coventry and heard the dreadful events reported on the radio when I was off duty that Saturday afternoon.

The revelations concerning the cover-up reminded me of the atmosphere in policing at that time - the recurring cases of malpractice such as the Birmingham Six, the Guildford Four and the Serious Crime Squad.

It was a time when it was often argued that the ends justified the means - a time when police officers, particularly detectives, were under great pressure to achieve convictions however they did it.

It was a criminal justice system which turned a blind eye to some of the practices or indeed often connived in them; a time when there was still a notion that it was the job of the police to control the lower classes.

One of the emotions with the Hillsborough report is: why had this taken so long to come out? When many families have been able to move on from other tragedies, why have the Hillsborough families had to wait so long? The whole system has too many players investigating, too many stages. It all takes too long and if there are lessons to be learnt they take far too long to come out.

We need more judge-led enquiries empowered to move swiftly to find the truth and look at the wider system in which tragedies often occur.

We have to still question the police role in football. Hillsborough occurred in an atmosphere where all fans were seen as hooligans and where it was primarily a public order, not a public safety issue.

We have moved on hugely in the sophistication of our management of public events - but we still have to challenge why we need so many police officers and security staff at football matches.

Does this prevent, or rather does it encourage, the atmosphere of rivalry and antagonism between fans which still results in much offensive and aggressive behaviour off, and sometimes on, the pitch? …

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