Hillsborough Cop Called For Dogs Not Ambulances

Hillsborough police chief David Duckenfield called for police dogs instead of ambulances as fans were crushed to death, the inquests have heard.

It was the latest in a number of admissions made by the former South Yorkshire Police chief superintendent for the first time since he was match commander on the day of the 1989 tragedy.

The 70-year-old has already confessed about “mistakes” he made and lies he told in the aftermath, and apologised “unreservedly” to fans’ families.

But during his third day of being cross-examined by lawyers of the relatives of the 96 who died, he denied his mind was focused on hooliganism rather than fans’ safety.

On the day of the disaster, police became overwhelmed by supporters at the turnstiles as kick-off neared and Mr Duckenfield gave the order at 2.52pm to open gates to let them in.

Around 2,000 fans poured in through Gate C, many heading straight for a tunnel in front of them, which Mr Duckenfield had not ordered to be closed – a “blunder of the first magnitude,” the inquest jury heard.

The tunnel led directly to the already full central pens on the Leppings Lane terrace.

Ninety-six Liverpool fans died in the ensuing crush minutes later on the terraces of Sheffield Wednesday’s Hillsborough ground as the FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest kicked off.

Mr Duckenfield has said he initially thought the problem on the terrace was crowd disorder and only realised it was a “medical emergency at 3.04pm”.

But transcripts of tape recordings made at that time in the police control box where the match commander was stationed showed a subordinate officer calling for police dogs.

Rajiv Menon QC, representing families of the victims, said: “You must have asked him to do this. It’s a medical emergency. Can you explain that? Why on earth do you need dogs at the stadium?”

Mr Duckenfield said he had “no idea” other than he wanted to create a “secure area” for the rescue operation.

Mr Menon asked: “So dogs requested, ambulances yet to be requested. Correct?”

The witness replied: “It would appear so.”

At 3.06pm Mr Duckenfield called for operational support, a request for all available officers in the force area to go to the stadium.

Mr Menon asked: “Why more manpower?”

Mr Duckenfield replied: “To help the rescue.”

Mr Menon responded: “What rescue? You have yet to call for ambulances or fire crews.”

Mr Duckenfield suggested the situation was different and simply looking at documents was “flat and tells you nothing”.

Mr Menon said police records did not record him declaring a major incident, which would have triggered a disaster rescue plan by emergency services.

Mr Duckenfield insisted he had done so and there was an “omission” in the records.

Mr Menon responded: “This is a transcript of the tape.”

The inquest heard that a request for a fleet of ambulances to attend Hillsborough was made around two minutes and 40 seconds after the call for back-up from dog-handlers.

Jurors were also told that an officer at the scene made a call at 3.13pm for fire crews equipped with cutting gear to attend the scene.

Mr Duckenfield agreed that the eight minutes represented a “serious amount of time” lost in the effort to save lives but said he was making decisions in a “very critical” situation.

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13 March 2015 | 8:41 pm – Source: orange.co.uk

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