Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 September 2014

Hillsborough cash policy questioned

A Liverpool fan sits on the terraces at Hillsborough after the 1989 disaster

Relatives of victims of the Hillsborough disaster have said they are shocked that a police force banked cash found among the lost property recovered from the stadium after the tragedy.

A document unearthed as part of the work of the Hillsborough Independent Panel shows that £14.53 in cash was gathered from the football ground in Sheffield after a terrace crush claimed the lives of 96 Liverpool fans in April 1989.

According to the 1992 South Yorkshire Police document, the money was among a range of unclaimed property left in the stadium after the disaster.

It was banked by the police finance department according to the procedures in place at the time, the force said.

But Hillsborough campaigners said it was "beyond belief" that South Yorkshire Police kept the money which, they said, should have been donated to the victims' fund.

Sheila Coleman, from the Hillsborough Justice Campaign, told the Independent: "That the force responsible for the deaths of 96 people kept some of the money found at Hillsborough is beyond belief. The fact that they decided to keep it, and not even consider donating it to the disaster fund, speaks volumes as to the mind-set of the South Yorkshire Police and their contempt for Liverpool football fans and their friends and families."

The wider issue of South Yorkshire Police's response to events in the stadium in 1989 are currently the subject of a huge investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).

A force spokeswoman said the memo dated January 16, 1992, lists property that had been recovered following the disaster. She said this document indicated that inquiries had been made to try and establish the ownership of items of this personal property, which included clothing.

She said: "The memorandum also notes that cash totalling £14.53 was part of this inventory and recommended that, in accordance with the policy operating at that time, the cash was banked by the Finance Department. Effectively, any unclaimed monies should have been placed into the Police Property Act Fund maintained by the then Police Authority which would then have been available for payment towards such charitable purposes as the Authority might determine.

"South Yorkshire Police are unable to comment on how these particular monies may have been dealt with, as financial records from that time do not exist. Such prime financial documents are required by law to be retained for six years, which has been surpassed in this instance. Whilst there is no reason whatsoever to believe that the proper processes were not followed in this instance, any further investigation of the circumstances in which this sum was recovered and applied would fall to be addressed, if at all, by the IPCC as part of its ongoing investigation."

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