Chapter 2: The 'moment' of 1989

Conclusion: what is added to public understanding

  • The SYP decision to replace the experienced match commander, Chief Superintendent Brian Mole, and appoint Chief Superintendent David Duckenfield who had minimal experience of policing at Hillsborough, just weeks before an FA Cup semi-final, has been previously criticised. None of the documents disclosed to the Panel indicated the rationale behind this decision.
  • A planning meeting attended by both senior officers was held less than a month before the match. The documents disclosed to the Panel give no explanation for the non-attendance of the South Yorkshire Metropolitan Ambulance Service and the Fire Service at this meeting.
  • Chief Superintendent Duckenfield held a briefing for senior officers on the day before the match. At that meeting he emphasised the importance of crowd safety. Briefings held by other senior officers, however, focused on potential crowd disorder, alcohol consumption, ticketless fans and the difficulties of managing Liverpool supporters. From the documents disclosed to the Panel, it is apparent that the collective policing mindset prioritised crowd control over crowd safety.
  • This mindset, directed particularly towards Liverpool fans, was clearly evident in SYP's submission to the Taylor Inquiry.
  • As previously known, the SYP 1989 Operational Order was derived, with a few alterations, from the 1988 Order and gave no indication of the crowd management problems experienced in 1988.
  • The SYP Operational Order concentrated primarily on the control and regulation of the crowd with no appropriate reference to crowd safety, crushing or evacuation of the stands/terraces.
  • From the documents disclosed to the Panel, the management roles and responsibilities of senior SYP officers were unclear, particularly the lines of communication, decision-making and information exchange between those responsible for policing outside the stadium and the ground commander inside the stadium.
  • There was clear evidence in the build-up to the match, both inside and outside the stadium, that turnstiles serving the Leppings Lane terrace could not process the required number of fans in time for the kick-off. Yet the growing danger was ignored. When the request to delay the kick-off eventually was made, it was considered too late as the teams were on the pitch.
  • For a considerable period inside the Police Control Box it was clear from the near view of the central pens below, and the CCTV coverage of the turnstiles and pens, that serious problems of overcrowding were occurring at the turnstiles and in the pens. Senior police officers' decision-making was hampered by poor communications, a malfunctioning radio system and the design of the Control Box.
  • Superintendent Roger Marshall was responsible for policing outside the stadium at the Leppings Lane end. As the crush at the turnstiles became severe he requested the opening of exit gates to allow fans into the stadium and relieve crowd pressure. He had no knowledge of the uneven distribution of fans on the Leppings Lane terrace. Similarly, the ground commander inside the stadium, Chief Superintendent Roger Greenwood, had no knowledge of the extreme situation developing outside the stadium.
  • The overview of both sites was the Control Box, with CCTV monitors and a near view of the central pens. Chief Superintendent Duckenfield acceded to Superintendent Marshall's request and authorised the opening of Gate C. Despite a clear view from the Control Box and CCTV monitors, neither Chief Superintendent Duckenfield nor his assistant, the experienced Superintendent Bernard Murray, anticipated the impact on the already packed central pens of fans descending the tunnel directly opposite Gate C.
  • On opening Gate C there was no instruction given to the SYP officers inside the stadium to manage the flow and direction of the incoming crowd.
  • From the documents provided to the Panel it is clear that the crush at the Leppings Lane turnstiles outside the stadium was not caused by fans arriving 'late' for the kick-off. The turnstiles were inadequate to process the crowd safely, and the rate of entry insufficient to prevent a dangerous build-up outside the ground.