Sheffield disaster watchdog attacked

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THE watchdog investigating the Hillsborough disaster cover-up lacks the power to get to the truth, MPs have warned.

A report by the influential Home Affairs select committee says the Independent Police Complaints Commission often does little more than ‘scratch the surface’ of serious complaints.

The watchdog was set up almost a decade ago to investigate the most serious complaints against the police, as well as the Serious Organised Crime Agency, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs and the UK Border Agency.

Keith Vaz, Home Affairs select committee chairman, said: “When public trust in the police is tested by complaints of negligence, misconduct and corruption, a strong watchdog is vital – but the IPCC leaves the public frustrated and faithless.

“Nearly a quarter of officers were subject to a complaint last year. Many were trivial, but some were extremely serious, involving deaths in custody or corruption. It is an insult to all concerned to do no more than scratch the surface of these alleged abuses.

The IPCC recently launched the biggest-ever inquiry into British policing after a report found South Yorkshire Police had attempted to shift the blame for the 1989 disaster at Sheffield Wednesday’s football ground onto the supporters involved.

The organisation is also investigating police chiefs including Sir Norman Bettison, who stepped down as West Yorkshire chief constable after allegations about his own Hillsborough role.