The new Hillsborough inquests have reached a very interesting stage from a point of view of crisis management; as the Police Match Commander, David Duckenfield, gives his evidence. His admission that, with hindsight, he “was probably not the best man for the job on the day” has received much media attention but will we actually learn anything new? Lord Justice Taylor’s original enquiry in 1989 had already exposed significant failings in the Police operation, concluding that:
“…although there were other causes, the main reason for the disaster was the failure of police control.”
Lord Taylor also specifically criticised the Match Commander for:
“his aversion to addressing the crowd and his failure to take effective control of the situation.”
However, he also noted that:
“with some notable exceptions, the senior officers in command were defensive and evasive witnesses.”
Hopefully now, twenty years on, Mr Duckenfield’s admission signals a greater openness and a willingness to face up to uncomfortable truths. As with any incident, this is the only way that we can avoid making the same mistakes again.