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Hillsborough police commander ‘not experienced enough on that day’, witness tells trial | UK News

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A former police sergeant on duty at the Hillsborough disaster has told a court he believes the match police commander was not experienced enough.

William Crawford told a trial that the previous year’s FA Cup semi-final at the same stadium was more organised than in 1989 when 96 football supporters died as a result of crushing.

He told jurors: “I don’t think the commander (in 1989) was experienced enough on that day to deal with the situation but I don’t think it was his fault. I think it was the person who put him there in the first place.”

The match commander, David Duckenfield, is on trial at Preston Crown Court charged with the gross negligence manslaughter of 95 Liverpool fans. He denies the charge.

Mr Crawford tried to save the lives of some of the crushed fans by pulling them from the terraces and attempting to give them artificial respiration but said he received no instructions from senior officers as to what he should do.

He told jurors: “The only instruction came from me to my serial.”

The witness said that earlier in the day he had been outside the stadium trying to control the crowd outside. He said that as kick-off approached the mood became darker.

The ex-South Yorkshire Police chief superintendent David Duckenfield is accused of manslaughter by gross negligence of 95 people who died in the 1989 Hillsborough disaster.
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The disaster at Sheffield Wednesday’s ground happened on 15 April 1989

He said: “At that particular stage it was a bit chaotic. In all my years’ service it was the only time I felt I was not in control of the situation.”

He told the court that he had expected senior officers monitoring CCTV cameras from the police control box to recognise the problems and deploy reserve officers.

He said: “I was hoping for some assistance but it never came.

“It was hectic at the time and it was quite intimidating… With the cameras and the monitors (depicting crowd build-up outside) to pick it up and relay it to the match commander who would deploy reserve serials.”

Earlier in the trial, another former police officer who went to the match as a Liverpool fan said crowd control was “chaotic” on the day of the disaster and much more organised in previous years.

David Essery, whose two friends were among supporters crushed to death, said there were “a mass of people” at the turnstiles and “huge differences” in policing compared with the same event one year earlier.

The witness told jurors that there were a lot more police officers at previous Hillsborough matches and that they had checked tickets.

He said: “I had been to finals and semi-finals. Certainly at those games there were a lot more police and they were a lot more visible…it was always more organised.”

Mr Essery said that before the match, on the day of the disaster, one police officer was encouraging Liverpool fans with tickets to climb over turnstiles because the crowd outside the stadium was so large.

The trial continues.

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