No doubt this morning all of us, and especially those of us involved with the criminal justice system in this country, will be coming to terms with the astonishing revelations from the Hillsborough Independent Panel, and the resulting fulsome apology to the victims families from prime minister David Cameron.
It will be recalled that all normal judicial processes had failed utterly to get to the truth and it is only because of the tenacity and determination of the victims families that virtually all official bodies felt obliged to finally come clean and hand over 400,000 documents to the Panel. Only the Sun Life Assurance Company refused, along with Liverpool Law Society.
The full ramifications of the whole sorry saga will continue for years to come, but at least and at last we all have no alternative but to finally appreciate the sheer scale of the disaster and the consequent appalling cover-up by official bodies, most crucially South Yorkshire Police. So I suspect I might not be alone in turning to the police for their reaction.
Not surprisingly the current Chief Constable has been quick to make a fulsome apology, whilst both distancing himself from any knowledge and stating how different things are now. A previous Chief Constable says he did his best to tackle the culture of secrecy, but had no knowledge of the cover-up and smear campaign.
Somewhat understandably, senior officers serving at the time are not available for comment, so we must turn to self-appointed and hugely popular spokespersons for the police such as Inspector Gadget. Normally quick to respond to current issues affecting the police, so far there has been silence. However, I note that less well known The Thinking Policeman has been quick to respond and I commend him/her for that. I quote:-
"The Hillsborough tragedy might be one best left off topic for many but I will say my piece regarding the Bishop of Liverpool's report.
I can understand the demand from the families of victims that they want answers as to how their loved ones died. I can understand that they want to apportion blame. Personally, I don't doubt those that died were totally blameless. They would almost certainly have been in the ground some time before the crush started.
I can understand the concerns about the safety of the ground before the match. I can understand the concerns regarding the emergency response after the crush. To hear that many victims might have survived had they had better medical care must be distressing. I can understand concerns that police officers statements were amended to remove criticism of the police management of the response.
What I do not accept is the key finding of the report that Liverpool fans were not the cause of the disaster. The quest for the truth regarding this incident has now reached Orwellian proportions. It now appears there were no drunken fans: no ticket less fans and the fans have no responsibility for using so much force to push their way into the ground that nearly 100 people were crushed to death.
A society where individuals have no responsibility for their actions and where authorities are now routinely blamed for failing to prevent or manage those actions is a very unhealthy society."
If this is representative of current front line police thinking on what was revealed yesterday, we really do have a much bigger problem than many of us thought.
PS Since publishing the above, Inspector Gadget has posted his comments and an apology.