Pc felt ‘let down’ by senior Hillsborough officers, jury told.

editorial image
Have your say

A former South Yorkshire Police officer on duty on the day of the Hillsborough Disaster has told a court there was no real control inside the stadium and he felt let down by senior officers on the day.

Alan Ramsden, a PC at the time also told the new inquests into the deaths of 96 Liverpool FC fans changes were made to his statement that he did not approve.

He said he was instructed to write an account of what happened when he returned to his base at Rotherham police station, that night.

He submitted a handwritten statement to the typist in the station.

Christina Lambert, counsel to the inquests, asked how the second statement compared to his original account.

Mr Ramsden said it was not an accurate transcription and he would not have written ‘end of report’ at the bottom.

The court was shown a copy of the statement with a paragraph crossed out.

It read: “I also felt in relation to the entrance outside Leppings Lane that there should have been some sort of semi sterile area.

“We, that is Rotherham officers, had this particular duty for the FA Cup semi final in 1987 which was played between Leeds and Coventry.”

Mr Ramsden said he did not approve the change.

Another paragraph which Ms Lambert said he expressed an opinion and feelings was crossed out.

The ex officer said he was not aware of the change but remembers a West Midlands officer talking to him about removing opinion from his statement.

Stephen Simblet, representing 10 of the bereaved families, also asked Mr Ramsden about the amended statement.

A paragraph that was crossed out was shown to the jury in Warrington.

It said: “My overall observations of the disaster will take many, many years to come to terms with.

“One thing that has gnawed at me was feeling so useless, people were crying for help and we could do nothing.

“As part of my normal duty I work the police control at Millmoor and fully appreciate the problems of working a football match control.

“But one thing that has concerned me was the pure location of the control box at Hillsborough overlooks the area where the tragedy took place.

“Were not the officers appreciative of the situation? What was the feedback from the officers working the perimeter on the pitch?

“Could they not see the developing crush within the terraces?”

Mr Ramsden said he went into the ground after hearing a message that fans were fighting on the pitch but when he arrived he saw no fighting.

He said there was no real control being exercised by anybody inside the stadium and described the situation as ‘complete and utter turmoil’.

Mr Ramsden said because of the lack of direction and instruction, a number of the ‘younger bobbies’ seemed to be in shock and unable to do anything effective.

Mr Simblet said: “You thought you were traumatised for a brief time and people froze.”

In his statement, Mr Ramsden said he saw fans trapped in pens pleading for assistance but police were unable to help.

Mr Simblet asked why, in his statement, Mr Ramsden described smelling alcohol from the pens.

He replied: “With hindsight, which we all could be blessed with, I suppose it could have been the smell of death.”

Mark George, representing 22 of the families, asked Mr Ramsden about one of the observations removed from his statement - the criticism of senior officers in the control box.

Mr Ramsden said there was the same concept of control at the Rotherham ground, where he had policed, although it was smaller.

Mr George said: “Did you feel let down by the senior officers on that day?”

“Yes,” said Mr Ramsden.

Mr George asked: “You couldn’t understand, frankly, could you, how on earth this had happened under the eyes of the officers in charge?”

“That’s correct,” said Mr Ramsden.

The hearing continues.