Operation Resolve is one of two criminal investigations ordered following the publication of the Hillsborough Independent Panel’s report in September 2012. The other is an investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (now the Independent Office for Police conduct IOPC). The aim of Operation Resolve was to undertake a thorough investigation into the events leading up to and including the disaster that took place on 15 April 1989 which resulted in the deaths of 96 people and injuries to 730 people at the Leppings Lane end of the stadium.
Operation Resolve has investigated events leading up to the day of the disaster as well as the disaster itself. Our inquiry has investigated:
- All decisions made (or not) and actions undertaken by those agencies/organisations who had responsibility for a duty of care to those attending the match on 15 April 1989
- The planning and preparation for the match, including organisational and individual decision making. It examined whether the arrangements were sufficient to host the event
- Compared Hillsborough against the standards that existed in the 1980s together with the command and control, resourcing levels and threat and risk assessment including mitigation of the threat at Hillsborough
- The planning and decision-making that went into the ground’s design, engineering, alterations and final layout, including the condition and adequacy of the turnstiles, the siting of barriers and “pen” design
- The emergency services’ response and activation of any pre-planned responses to such disasters. It examined in detail the police actions on 15 April 1989, both before and as the disaster unfolded, specifically their responses to the plight of the injured, dying and deceased and to the witnesses, relatives and friends
- All available documents and data collected from the original police investigation, Coroner’s inquest, Public Inquiry, private prosecution, judicial review, Divisional Court ruling and the Hillsborough Independent Panel 2012 was re-examined. It also examined all available information in relation to the previous FA Cup Semi Finals held at Hillsborough in 1981, 1987 and 1988
- Through an appropriately managed interview strategy, identified potential witnesses, including key significant witnesses and interviewed those persons who were involved in the planning of the semi final or who had a role to play on the day of the disaster.
Where our inquiries involved examining the actions of South Yorkshire Police, this part of our investigation has been managed by the IOPC.
The Coroner to the inquests, Sir John Goldring, asked Operation Resolve to provide him and the Solicitors to Inquests with assistance in preparing for, and conducting the inquests. Operation Resolve carried out a number of enquiries in relation to the following topics:
- Stadium safety
- Preparations for the 1989 semi final
- Crowd management on 15 April 1989 and the fatal crush
- Emergency response
- The experience of each individual deceased person
The information and material gathered was supplied to HM Coroner Sir John Goldring for his consideration of use for the inquest process.
In January 2019 following a series of preliminary hearings and legal arguments, a joint trial of David DUCKENFIELD and Graham MACKRELL was heard at Preston Crown Court before the High Court Judge Sir Peter OPENSHAW. Graham MACKRELL was convicted of an offence under the Health and Safety at Work Act but the jury could not reach a verdict on David DUCKENFIELD so a retrial was ordered at the same court before the same judge.
The retrial of David DUCKENFIELD was held from October 2019 with the same indictment and concluded in December 2019 with the jury returning a verdict of not guilty.