LAWYERS acting for the families of 20 of the Hillsborough disaster victims have called on the Home Secretary to put South Yorkshire Police (SYP) into remedial measures.
The push for Theresa May to examine the force’s behaviour “at every level” came after acting chief constable Dawn Copley, who replaced David Crompton following the inquest findings, offered to step down.
Elkan Abrahamson, a solicitor for the victims’ families, labelled SYP a “shambles” and said there needed to be “rigorous and continuing examination” of the force’s behaviour.
He added that the force had not abided by its motto, Justice with Courage. Mr Abrahamson said: “We are appalled to see the shambles in South Yorkshire Police following the Hillsborough Inquest verdict. SYP leadership have showed a lamentable refusal to face up to the fact that their organisation needs to take a long hard look at their values and ethics.”
He called for the Home Secretary to send in a team to look at the force, “root and branch, to speak to the rank and file and see what they think is wrong in the force and what needs to be done”.
Mr Abrahamson issued the statement following news that Mrs Copley’s conduct at her former employer, Greater Manchester Police (GMP), was being investigated.
GMP confirmed “an independent investigation was undertaken by Kent Police following a number of allegations”. According to reports, this involved a group of senior officers who were accused of “corrupt practice”.
Mr Abrahamson added: “We believe the rank-and-file officers in the force are being let down by their leaders. Sadly the only solution would appear to be the application of remedial measures and we have today asked Theresa May to commence the procedure to enable this.”
Labour’s Keith Vaz, who chairs the Home Affairs Select Committee, said the calls should be taken “seriously” and branded the force “troubled”. “There is a short-term crisis that can only be dealt with by the Home Secretary,” he said.
South Yorkshire’s police and crime commissioner, Alan Billings, said Mrs Copley had “offered to step back to her substantive role” while another candidate was sought.
The police chief did not want “any further negative publicity or criticism to be levelled at the force”, he added.