Hillsborough: South Yorkshire Police work 'undermined'

The "good work" of South Yorkshire Police has been "undermined" by its failings over the Hillsborough disaster, according to the force's Chief Constable David Crompton.

A BBC poll found 78% of respondents felt the force's reputation had been damaged since last month's revelations.

And 37% of the 500 people polled said they had "lost trust" in the force.

An independent panel found police had made "strenuous attempts" to deflect the blame for the 96 deaths on to fans.

On Friday, the police watchdog, the IPCC, said it would investigate whether there had been a criminal cover-up.

And the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Keir Starmer will review evidence relating to how the 96 fans died, which could lead to charges of manslaughter through gross negligence.

Results of survey
'We have changed'

Mr Crompton said: "We acknowledge that events over the last few weeks have dented public confidence."

He added: "The force needs to consider how to be more open and transparent in the way it does its business in order to show we have changed and we are different - it's not enough to say that was then and we are different now.

"It is really unfortunate that the good work of the force in 2012 is being undermined by something which occurred 23 years ago."

Analysis

As soon as the families of the 96 saw the huge ream of documents from the independent panel, they knew they had been right to fight for 23 years.

Across the Pennines, a changed police force that had been rebuilding its reputation over two decades realised the story was far from over.

The IPCC and DPP have described their new investigations as "massive" and a large number of current and former officers will be in the spotlight.

The force's reputation has taken a big hit and that is what hurts officers serving today; those who started their careers long after 1989.

Policing has changed a lot, and it is about to change again.

The issue of rebuilding trust will be competing with officer morale and government funding to make it to the top of the new Police Commissioner's first agenda.

In September, the Hillsborough Independent Panel revealed 164 police statements were altered - 116 of them to remove or change negative comments about the policing of the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest at the Sheffield stadium.

The panel also found that 41 of the 96 Liverpool fans who died had the "potential to survive".

Trevor Hicks lost his two daughters in the disaster, and is president of the Hillsborough Family Support Group.

He said: "The reason this has to be sorted out with vigour and thoroughness is that this goes beyond Hillsborough.

"If we can't trust the police, who can we trust?

"This is one of the problems that society has got now: it's not just sorting Hillsborough out, it's sorting out the total integrity of any police force in the country."

ComRes carried out the survey on behalf of BBC Radio Sheffield and interviewed a representative sample of 500 adults living in the South Yorkshire force area by telephone between 5 and 10 October.

PDF download Download the survey results[217KB]

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