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Hillsborough: Families want 'remedial measures' for South Yorkshire Police

ambulance on crowded pitch
Image caption The 1989 match at Sheffield Wednesday's ground was called off six minutes after kick-off

Lawyers for 20 families of the victims of the Hillsborough disaster have asked the home secretary to apply remedial measures to South Yorkshire Police.

Broudie Jackson Canter (BJC) Solicitors said Theresa May should send a team in to examine the force "root and branch".

The force has been criticised after the Hillsborough inquests concluded the 96 victims were unlawfully killed and there were police failings.

Mrs May said she would help the force "confront the mistakes of the past".

A statement from BJC said the families were "appalled to see the shambles in South Yorkshire Police" following the conclusion of the Hillsborough inquests on Tuesday and said a team from Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) should be sent in to "speak to the rank and file and see what they think is wrong in the force and what needs to be done".

"We believe there needs to be a rigorous and continuing examination of the ethical behaviour of the force at every level.

"The force's motto is 'Justice with Courage' - sadly they have shown neither."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Tributes were left at the Hillsborough stadium following the conclusion of the inquests

The secretary of state has the power to direct a police authority to apply remedial measures.

A team from HMIC would first examine the force and decide what action needed to be taken.

South Yorkshire Police's Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Billings said: "I spoke with the home secretary yesterday... She is going to be helpful to [the force] - and that may involve the College of Policing and other bodies which are being referred to."

Mrs May said: "I understand entirely the families' disappointment in South Yorkshire Police's response. As I told the House on Wednesday, the force must recognise the truth and be willing to accept it.

"The decision to hire and fire a chief officer is a matter for the Police and Crime Commissioner, in order to ensure direct accountability to the communities served by the force.

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Image caption South Yorkshire Police Chief Constable David Crompton was suspended on Wednesday

"The current PCC, Alan Billings, has taken a decision to suspend the chief constable and I understand that a process is under way to find temporary leadership while his replacement is found.

"I stand ready to support that process, and to help South Yorkshire Police confront the mistakes of the past and regain the confidence of their community."

Former Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police Sir Peter Fahy said there should be "greater national oversight" when filling the top job within forces.

Sir Peter said: "Under the system of police and crime commissioners, it's solely down to the police and crime commissioner to make that (chief constable) selection.

"I personally think there should be greater national oversight and more movement between police forces.

"How can a local person perhaps see what is the talent across 43 police forces and beyond? That's part of the difficulty.

"What you need is more movement between police forces so that you do get fresh blood in, so you don't get the sort of entrenched view and overall there's been less movement between forces."

The call for an official examination of South Yorkshire Police is the latest development in a torrid week for the force.

Following the inquests, Chief Constable David Crompton was suspended on Wednesday after what South Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner Dr Alan Billings called an "erosion of trust" in the force.

On Thursday Hillsborough families expressed anger after a private message to retired officers of the force telling them to be proud of their work was made public in error.

Later the same day it was announced hundreds of Hillsborough victims had taken out a civil action against South Yorkshire Police and West Midlands Police over their conduct on the day of the disaster and the aftermath.

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