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Hillsborough report

Dear Reader,

Some years ago (April 1989) while I was at School a dire crush accident occurred in a football ground in the north of England. The name of the football ground was Hillsborough and almost 100 Liverpool fans were killed when the crowd pushed them against a steel fence. In those days most football grounds had standing areas and as a result of the problem of holliganism the fans were kept inside steel cages to prevent pitch invasions.

The steel cage combined with a series of other things lead to the dire accident. In common with the Abervan accident a series of different things all combined to cause the horrible event. I would also say that the words of Davies Inquiry Report might apply to some of those involved in this football ground accident. The words were

We found that many witnesses …. were like moles being asked about the habits of birds.”

This may well have been true, I think a series of defects in the ground and the management of the ground resulted in the deaths, rather than being a single simple cause. I suspect that with the understanding of events such as the Love Parade stampede the architect of the stadium might have designed it differently if the architect is still alive then he might be one of the moles now being asked about the habits of birds.

  1. Without the anti-holliganism cage it would have never been such a horrible event.
  2. If the ground had been all seater then it would not been such a bad event
  3. If the ground had been better designed then the event would not have occurred
  4. If the police who were in charge of the ground on the day had did things differently then it would not have happened.

Shortly after the event a set of tales started to go around which suggested that a large number of drunken football thugs were responsible for the accident, the sun newspaper printed wild, offensive and false claims about drunken Liverpool fans attacking rescue workers, picking the pockets of the fallen and another vile libel which I will not pollute my keyboard by mentioning it. So I would say that some parts of the event may be clouded in smoke and mirrors.

My classmates at school and the Talyor report both agreed that the the main reason for the disaster was the failure of police control, my current view was that when compared with a modern site the Hillsborough stadium may have had some flaws but if it was used in the right way then it was possible to pack a sensible number of members of the public into the site in a safe and reasonable way.

In the UK and other places a series of other crush accidents have occurred, the one which I view as the saddest is the Victoria Hall disaster which killed over 180 children.

Recently in the UK a debate has started about the release of the government’s confidential documents which relate to the event. I hold a view that out of respect to the dead and injured that the names of the victims should be redacted. I have been a IAEA report on a fatal radiation accident (A man at Soreq in the middle east defeated all the safety features of a medical products irradiation plant and then suffered a fatal dose of gamma rays while he was trying to fix jammed machinery), in this report the man was described as “a 32 year old man, married with two children, and had one brother. He smoked 40 cigarettes per day and had no significant medical history except for a traumatic rib fracture followed by a pneumothorax three years earlier.” but he was never named. Also when a photo of a radiation injury to his face was shown in the report, the authors of the report blacked out part of his face to make sure that no one could ever recognise him from the photo. (Word of warning the report I linked to above has some nasty graphic photos). In the same way I think it is important to redact the names of all the victims of the Hillsborough event, while a list may be made of their names. When the state of the dead bodies is discussed then they should be person A1, B2 or Q5 to protect their privicy.

When I hear more of what has happened in London, I will give you more of my thoughts.

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