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Weekly Edition - Publication date:- 2017-01-13

-en Southport & Mersey Reporter

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Hillsborough criminal probe has 23 suspects

23 suspects could now face prosecution following the results of the inquest concuding the 98 victims of the FA Cup Semi Final tragedy had been killed "unlawfully." The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) and Operation Resolve, on 12 January 2017, referred files of evidence relating to 23 suspects they have identified, from their Hillsborough investigations, to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS)

The CPS will now have to decide whether criminal charges should follow.  The IPCC probe has been the biggest criminal investigation into alleged Police misconduct ever conducted in England and Wales.

It is not publicly known who the 23 individuals are.  Of these, 15 suspects relate to Operation Resolve?s investigation into the causes of the disaster. The potential offences for consideration include:- gross negligence manslaughter, perverting the course of justice, misconduct in public office and offences under the Safety of Sports Ground Act 1975 and Health and Safety at Work legislation. A further 8 individuals relate to the IPCC?s independent investigation into both South Yorkshire Police and West Midlands Police and the alleged cover up of the disaster. The potential offences for consideration include perverting the course of justice, conspiracy to pervert the course of justice and misconduct in public office.

The CPS will consider any other relevant offences on the evidence presented by both investigation teams. The information the IPCC has provided to the CPS about West Midlands Police and South Yorkshire Police runs to 61,000 pages and nearly 3,000 documents respectively, while the information provided by Operation Resolve runs to approximately 85,000 pages.  It's understood that the CPS may now take up to 6 months to consider all the evidence.

Sue Hemming, Head of CPS Special Crime and Counter Terrorism Division, said:- "Having received files from both Hillsborough investigations, we will now assess these in order to determine whether we have sufficient material on which to make charging decisions. Charging decisions will be based on the tests set out in the Code for Crown Prosecutors."

AC Robert Beckley, Office in Overall Command of Operation Resolve said:- "Our task has been to investigate whether any individual or organisation is criminally culpable for their role either in the planning and preparation for the match or on the day of the game itself. The extensive file we have submitted, which contains over 35 million words, reflects four years of intense work from my team. As well as conducting a criminal investigation, for three years we also supported the coronial process in providing the coroner with thousands of documents, witness statements and reports to assist him in conducting the inquests."

IPCC Deputy Chair Rachel Cerfontyne said:- "These criminal investigations into the circumstances surrounding the Hillsborough disaster are the largest investigations into alleged police wrongdoing ever undertaken in England and Wales. Conducting an inquiry of this scale and complexity, while supporting the longest running inquests in British legal history, has been a significant undertaking for the IPCC. Our criminal investigation has now substantially concluded."


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