Call for police forces across the country to open up Orgreave files

Police chiefs in South Yorkshire want forces across the country involved in the Battle of Orgreave to open up their archives.
The Battle of OrgreaveThe Battle of Orgreave
The Battle of Orgreave

This week they revealed that an archivist has been employed in South Yorkshire to catalogue all the documentation the force has on the 1984 Battle of Orgreave, which saw police officers from around the country and miners clash on a picketline during the National Miners' Strike.

Violence broke out at the Orgreave coking plant between Sheffield and Rotherham, resulting in 95 miners being arrested.

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Their trials later collapsed amid claims that police statements were altered - drawing parallels with the police response to the Hillsborough disaster, where police statements were altered and false accounts given to try to shift blame for the disaster away from the police.

During a debate organised by The Star and BBC Radio Sheffield, Unison representative Ian Armitage, who works at South Yorkshire Police and was a miner at Orgreave, said police officers from across the country were at the picketline and all forces involved should be investigated.

Police and Crime Commissioner, Dr Alan Billings, said: "We are going to make the archives available as far as we can.

"At least 20 other police forces must have some sort of archive. We want them all open."

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Chief Constable Stephen Watson said: "Our view that we have taken is that we would welcome an independent objective assessment of the issues that come out of Orgreave.

"Orgreave is one of several issues that together might be described as the legacy of South Yorkshire Police. Many of these issues, until they are fully aired, won't go away

"I'm very anxious that we learn all of the lessons of the past but then draw a line and move on into the future.

"We have recently appointed an independent archivist to go through and properly catalogue all the documentation we have, catalogue it in such a way that it can be shared.

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"We are expecting an answer from the Home Secretary as to what form any inquiry might take.

"We are fully committed to putting everything we have into the public domain - that's an undertaking I can absolutely give to you.

"Save for issues which are legally, professionally privileged, everything that we have we will share."

Jim Lucas, of the South Yorkshire branch of the Police Federation, said: "This is not just a South Yorkshire Police issue, officers from all over the country came to police this strike."