Chapter 2: The 'moment' of 1989

The 1989 FA Cup Semi-Final

2.2.9 According to Graham Mackrell, the SWFC Secretary, there was no inter-agency pre-match briefing before the 1989 Semi-Final. His understanding was that SYP 'felt one was not necessary as the game involved effectively an action reply [sic] of the year before'.[2] 

2.2.10 Mr Mackrell's recollection conflicts with SYP's liaison officer, Inspector Sewell, who recalled a planning meeting held on 22 March 1989 attended by 'various people' concerned 'with the police operation'. However, neither the South Yorkshire Metropolitan Ambulance Service nor the Fire Service was invited.[3] 

2.2.11 The notes of this meeting could not be traced when requested by Counsel for SYP.[4] According to C/Supt Mole, while there was no meeting with the FA the 1988 arrangements were confirmed for 1989 by telephone.[5]

2.2.12 The Match Commander in 1989 was C/Supt Duckenfield. As in 1988, SYP's Assistant Chief Constable for Operations, Walter Jackson, assumed overall control of planning and operational policing on the day.

2.2.13 Interviewed by West Midlands Police (WMP) for a report to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), he stated that as Match Commander C/Supt Mole's 'kind of community policing' strategy was to try 'to get the same ... people at the same place all the time, and so he did that and he used a lot of his, community bobbies, so that they were at the same place, would identify the people concerned, so that if there were any particular problems ... they could identify them quickly'. ACC Jackson stated that 'it was good practice, and ... we always shared it with everyone else'.[6] 

2.2.14 As stated above, C/Supt Duckenfield replaced C/Supt Mole 21 days before the match. According to ACC Jackson, C/Supt Mole was not asked to police the match. C/Supt Duckenfield was an experienced divisional commander who would be supported by C/Supt Mole's established team.

2.2.15 However, C/Supt Duckenfield had not worked at Hillsborough for ten years.[7]  Because the change of command happened within a month of the Semi-Final, C/Supt Mole initiated the planning with C/Supt Duckenfield involved from the first meeting.

2.2.16 The detailed planning was processed by the same SYP team as 1988 overseen by Superintendent Bernard Murray who, as second-in-command, liaised with C/Supt Duckenfield. Reflecting on C/Supt Duckenfield's new role, ACC Jackson considered that the 'open and frank policy' which he operated in SYP would have allowed C/Supt Duckenfield to make known his reservations about policing the match.[8]

2.2.17 During his interview for the eventual criminal investigation into the disaster, Supt Murray observed that C/Supt Duckenfield and C/Supt Mole exhibited contrasting leadership styles. Whereas C/Supt Mole operated on the ground and was mobile within the stadium, remaining in radio contact with the Police Control Room, Supt Murray stated that Supt Duckenfield viewed his role as supervising the policing of the stadium from the Control Room.[9] 

Pre-match briefings

2.2.18 C/Supt Duckenfield briefed senior officers the day before the match, his notes emphasising public order and crowd safety.They contained no reference to crowd safety issues from the previous year. He emphasised that as it was an all-ticket match, 'if supporters do not have a ticket then whatever they say they will not be allowed into the ground' as 'safety limits' had to be protected.[10] 

2.2.19 He noted that the 'stadium has been divided to ensure maximum segregation and to reduce any possibility of public disorder'. As it would be 'full to capacity' and some officers 'may never have experienced a football match of this nature' the priority was 'to ensure the safety of spectators and you must make sure you know the escape routes and that you are fully conversant with your responsibilities should a crisis arise'. He stated: 'I cannot stress too highly the word "Safety"'.

2.2.20 Superintendent Roger Greenwood was Ground Commander inside the stadium and raised the issue of overcrowding, specifically because there was concern to avoid a situaton in which Liverpool fans who gained tickets for the Spion Kop would be transferred to the Leppings Lane terrace, thus repeating the events of 1981.

2.2.21 He briefed Inspectors under his command not to transfer Liverpool supporters from the Spion Kop to the Leppings Lane terrace, contrary to the instructions in the Operational Order. His briefing concentrated on public order problems: 'the question of supporters from the Leppings Lane terrace being hauled up by fellow supporters into the West Stand [seated area] at half time thus creating over capacity in the West Stand'.[11]

2.2.22 Further, given the experience of the 1988 Semi-Final, 'it was quite foreseeable that there would be a large element of Liverpool supporters who by whatsoever means would be purchasing tickets for the Spion Kop'. This 'problem had been evident last year and ... cordoning Police officers had come under threat to personal safety'.

2.2.23 He advised that 'generally speaking if things are going well for Liverpool supporters crowd management should be reasonably well achieved, however should things in any way not go well [with] them then they had proved extremely difficult to contain and moods would easily change'.

2.2.24 Reflecting on an incident at a Sheffield Wednesday v Liverpool league match, Sheffield Wednesday supporters had been transferred to the Leppings Lane terrace where 'Liverpool supporters went wild attempting to scale the fencing in an attempt to get to the Sheffield Wednesday supporters. It was necessary for some officers to draw truncheons to contain the Liverpool supporters'.

2.2.25 Interviewed by WMP for a report to the DPP a year after the disaster, Supt Greenwood stated that from experience he expected crowd distribution to be monitored by officers in the Police Control Box 'visually and with screens'.[12] His recollection that at the briefings he made specific references to 1981 was confirmed by SYP officers Inspector Gordon Sykes and Inspector Graham Delaney.[13]  

2.2.26 Superintendent Roger Marshall was Ground Commander outside the Leppings Lane end of the stadium. His briefing focused on public order rather than safety. While C/Supt Duckenfield had, as stated above, included safety in his briefing Supt Marshall's mindset was influenced by the events of 1988.

2.2.27 Interviewed a year after Hillsborough by WMP for a report to the DPP, Supt Marshall recorded his 'fairly jaundiced view of football supporters', noting 'incidents that had taken place in 1988 ... that I found disturbing and distasteful, for instance there was a fight and a stabbing which took place in Hillsborough Park ... and there was some shoplifting which took place down in the precinct and generally the reputation of, of Liverpool fans left a lot to be desired in my view'.[14]

2.2.28 Focusing on alcohol and disorder, Supt Marshall stated he was aware of the late arrival of Liverpool fans but understood it within the context that 'one associates football matches with, with heavy drinking and that was precisely what was taking place'.[15] 

2.2.29 He took no action to encourage fans to move quickly into the stadium because he considered that this would have had a deleterious effect on their mood and behaviour. He considered that crowd congestion in the concourse outside the Leppings Lane turnstiles was due to non-ticket holders and poor intelligence from Merseyside Police.[16]

[2] Statement of Graham Mackrell, 19 May 1989, SYP000038670001, p79.
[3] Inspector Sewell's evidence to the Taylor Inquiry, SYP000123550001, p5.
[4] Letter from ACC Anderson, SYP, to Hammond Suddards, 5 May 1989, SYP000097360001, p2.
[5] Note of internal SYP meeting to discuss 'Proof of Evidence' for the Taylor Inquiry, 26 April 1989, SYP000097190001, p4.
[6] West Midlands Police interview with ACC Jackson for report to the DPP, 28 June 1990, SYP000038910001, p61.
[7] Final submission to the Hillsborough Inquiry on Behalf of the Treasury Counsel, SYP000098180001, p20.
[8] West Midlands Police interview with ACC Jackson for report to the DPP, 28 June 1990, SYP000038910001, p66.
[9] West Midlands Police interview with Superintendent Murray for report to the DPP, 25 June 1990, SYP000038900001, pp53-54.
[10] Chief Superintendent Duckenfield's briefing notes for the 1989 FA Cup Semi-Final, 14 April 1989, SYP000038820001,pp318-323.
[11] Notes of Superintendent Greenwood's briefing on 14 April 1989, document dated 20 April 1989, SYP000010690001, pp2-3.
[12] West Midlands Police interview with Superintendent Greenwood for report to the DPP, 29 June 1990, SYP000038920001, p22.
[13] Statement of Inspector Gordon Sykes, 18 July 1990, SYP000038800001, pp248-250. See also statement of Inspector Graham Delaney, SYP000038800001, p334.
[14] West Midlands Police interview with Superintendent Roger Marshall for report to the DPP, 19 June 1990, SYP000038880001, p31.
[15] West Midlands Police interview with Superintendent Roger Marshall for report to the DPP, 19 June 1990, SYP000038880001, p45.
[16] West Midlands Police interview with Superintendent Roger Marshall for report to the DPP, 19 June 1990, SYP000038880001, pp55-56.