Talk:Hillsborough disaster

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A proposed first paragraph[edit]

The first paragraph was recently reworked and, while it introduced some content that I think is critical, it has what I think are some shortcomings. Below is a proposal. References are omitted as they don't work well on talk pages.

This incorporates content from the new first para and the old one. I think the older (before 10 May) paragraph focused more on the events of 15 April 1989 while the new one was primarily about the events that followed. The story of the disaster demands both, but in my evaluation the first para has to present what happened on the day. There is much else it has to present.

I admit the version above (and this talk page comment) is long. The comment is longer than the paragraph. I think the first paragraph should include everything you would want somebody to know if they will read that paragraph and nothing else -- ever. So I considered these things:

  • It should subtly define British football terminology: "...terrace...a standing area..."
  • It should describe in as few words as possible what caused the disaster; I understand this to be the opening of Gate C combined with Pens 3 and 4 being already near capacity. It is very difficult to write this concisely but it is essential. I've avoided use of proper names (Gate C, Pen 3), omitted any mention of turnstiles, the tunnel, the STANDING sign, and innumerable other things.
  • It should explain in as few words as possible how the police were involved. The one indispensable detail other than the gate being opened and the overcrowded "area" is that a senior police officer ordered the gate to be opened. Again many critical facts have to be omitted: lack of preparation, lack of emergency equipment, failure to close the tunnel... All those things determined the magnitude of the disaster. The opening of the gate caused Hillsborough. (Alteration of witness statements is also important because it led to the new investigation.)
  • It should not mention any people involved on the day. If it mentions one, it must mention many.
  • It should be respectful of the people affected by the disaster; it should mention that false allegations were made, but not what they were. Here, it states they were false before saying they were made.

I decided to post the proposal here so others can comment. I hope we can come to a consensus that communicates all the absolutely critical points about Hillborough in one paragraph.


The proposal[edit]

All editors are invited to make changes to the text below. I've used the citation needed flag{{cn}} as a placeholder for where refs would be placed; feel free to the same, and if you add a reference comment it out so it doesn't cause problems with the discussion page.

The Hillsborough disaster was a human crush that caused the deaths of 96 people and injured 766 others at a football match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest at Hillsborough Stadium, Sheffield, England, on 15 April 1989. The match was the 1988–89 FA Cup semi-final, with Hillsborough, home ground of Sheffield Wednesday Football Club (SWFC), selected as a neutral venue. The fatal crush occurred in the minutes before and after the 2:58 pm kick-off time, in the Leppings Lane terrace at the western end of the pitch, a standing area allocated to Liverpool supporters.

Entry was possible via a limited number of turnstiles, a restriction that led to dangerous overcrowding outside the ground before kick-off. Neither the police nor SWFC postponed kickoff to ensure the safe passage of supporters into the ground; instead, at 2:52 pm, a gate was opened on the orders of senior police officers, admitting about 2,000 people. Most headed through a prominently signed tunnel leading to the standing areas behind the goal, known as Pen 3 and Pen 4. The influx of people created lethal conditions towards the front of the crowd and, shortly thereafter, a safety barrier collapsed. Steel perimeter fencing, intended to prevent pitch invasions, prevented escape onto the pitch, while lateral fencing, intended to keep too many supporters from congregating behind the goal, trapped people in Pens 3 and 4.

The 1989–90 official inquiry headed by Lord Taylor concluded that "the main reason for the disaster was the failure of police control" by South Yorkshire Police (SYP). Lord Taylor's recommendations resulted in the removal of steel perimeter fences and the abolition of standing-room terraces at top-level British football stadiums. A separate coroner's inquest by Stephan Popper ruled that the 96 victims had died of traumatic asphyxia before 3:15 pm, and the jury returned a verdict of accidental death. Relatives of the victims welcomed the Taylor Report but were opposed to the coroner's ruling. They were outraged by the revelation that police witness statements had been altered, and they were vehemently opposed to media coverage, largely based on falsehoods, that was critical of Liverpool supporters' behaviour.

For years, survivors and bereaved demanded a new investigation, until, in 2009, the Hillsborough Independent Panel (HIP) was formed. HIP delivered its report in 2012; consequently, the verdict of accidental death was quashed. A new coroner's inquest was established. In April 2016 the jury, satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that the 96 deaths were the result of a criminal offence, returned a verdict of unlawful killing.


Please leave any comments after this line. Original version: Roches (talk) 23:15, 12 May 2016 (UTC) @CarryOnCharlie, Anthony Appleyard, and ThePowerofX: Although the above is very long, the three of you have edited the article recently and so you may be interested. This is just a request for collaboration, no changes were made to the article. Roches (talk) 02:03, 13 May 2016 (UTC)

It's good that you have initiated this discussion. The inadequate number of turnstiles allocated to Liverpool supporters is central to the disaster. If we keep things concise, can we work that in? I'm not sure if this is nitpicking or not, but the perimeter fence was erected to prevent pitch invasions, but the lateral fencing was put in place following the Tottenham Hotspur and Wolverhampton Wanderers crush, in order to stop too many supporters moving freely along the terrace and congregating behind the goal. This decision contributed to the disaster because by making it more difficult for supporters to escape the area. We might say something like: "...perimeter fencing, intended to prevent pitch invasions, and lateral fencing, erected to prevent...". Otherwise it's looking good. — TPX 14:48, 13 May 2016 (UTC)
I added a mention of the turnstiles, in bold. (2,000 is from the Interim Taylor Report.) It should be clear that if over 2,000 people had not been admitted the seven turnstiles were inadequate. Additions about the lateral fences are in italics. I considered it desirable to simplify the terrace "area" to avoid having to mention the tunnel and the underfilled wing pens. I also previously omitted "Pen 3 and Pen 4". What do you (and others) think?
I'd like to mention of the area of the pens but I can only seem to find the width (13.3 m). A photo of the STANDING sign would be very useful for the article, if copyright permission can be obtained. Roches (talk) 17:26, 13 May 2016 (UTC)
The first version flowed slightly better, but I have kept the gist of the amendments. — TPX 22:01, 14 May 2016 (UTC)

Here is another amendment I wish to see made: "Instead of delaying the start of the game to ensure the safe passage of supporters into the ground, at 2:52 pm, a gate was opened on the orders of senior police officers, admitting about 2,000 people." It is important to summarise the main errors as briefly as possible, including the failure to close the gate. — TPX 22:14, 14 May 2016 (UTC) @ThePowerofX:

I agree that this should be included. I put part in bold and part in bold italics. The part in bold is not absolutely necessary in my opinion, as it may be clear that postponing kickoff would have allowed people to get in safely, but you may think otherwise. The bold italics part mentions the police failure to delay the start of the match but I added that SWFC could have done this. Question 11a in the new inquest states that SWFC should have requested a delay. The verdict states that this may have contributed, so it is not certain that it should be included here. Thanks for the other amendments as well. Roches (talk) 16:33, 18 May 2016 (UTC)

The lead already suffers from extreme bloat due to the influx of edits since the end of the last inquiry and this proposal only adds to the problem. In particular it has become a dumping ground for what each editor feels was the central cause of the disaster. These problems are too complicated to be addressed within the lead. There are also a number of causes that remain omitted such as the failure to close the central tunnel. Perhaps the bigger problem is that it means that the only direct cause is lost in the middle of the paragraph. It would suggest that the whole section from "The fatal crush occurred..." to "...pens 3 and 4." Should be replaced with a paraphrasing of what the jury agreed were the basic facts of the disaster

...[The disaster was] due to crushing in the central pens of the Leppings Lane terrace, following the admission of a large number of supporters to the stadium through exit gates.

In addition, the paragraph contains peripheral details such as the fact that it was held at a neutral venue. The final sentence does not need to explain the intricacies of English law and can be shortened to "The jury found that the 96 deaths were the verdict of Unlawful Killing". Also the discussion of subsequent inquests represents a change in subject so therefore be given their own paragraph. Eckerslike (talk) 07:30, 19 May 2016 (UTC)

The central causes of the disaster are identified by countless reliable sources like this one. Once formatted into four paragraphs it won't appear so bloated. Let me try. — TPX 10:35, 19 May 2016 (UTC)

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Proposed re-ordering[edit]

I only came to this article for the first time yesterday, and don't want to 'step on anyone's toes', however I am suggesting putting all inquests, official enquiries, legal reviews into chronological order (after the present description of the events and victims sections). At present the two inquests are tucked into 'Charges against officials', at the tail of the article, which appears to me to be incorrect factually and in terms of importance. I also propose to rename "Charges against officials" to "Criminal and civil cases". I also noticed that there is no section or text about the role of West Midlands Police, which is fairly important for understanding the whole legal story. Thoughts? Pincrete (talk) 16:06, 26 February 2017 (UTC)

I've also copied ALL the Taylor report section to Taylor Report, as a prelude to 'paring' down the section on this article to its essentials. Pincrete (talk) 17:46, 26 February 2017 (UTC)

I have restored the section about the effect the disaster had on stadium design in the UK. It is definately on topic as it is the biggest single consequence of the disaster. Eckerslike (talk) 18:18, 26 February 2017 (UTC)
Eckerslike, at present this article is at least double the max. recommended length, the Taylor Report article (until today), had nothing about the inquiry or report or effects of the report. Why do we have an article about the report if we put all the content here?
At the same time, the two coroner's inquests and IPCC inquiry are 'tucked away' at the bottom in completely inapt sections, and there is no mention of the West Midlands Police's involvement anywhere. Would you at least agree that the 'changes to stadium design' should be heavily pruned with the details on the 'report' article? Pincrete (talk) 19:00, 26 February 2017 (UTC)
I would agree with pruning. I have taken out the middle paragraph and a sentence that detailed a peculiar and unnessary detail about Berwick Rangers. I agree that the article and its lead in particular is too long. There seems to be excessive quoting directly from the Taylor report where paraphrasing would surfice. Another section that needs serious attention is the excessive attention payed to every contraversy surrounding the disaster. Eckerslike (talk) 19:44, 26 February 2017 (UTC)


(nb edit conflict) I took the precaution of copying ALL the report material onto that article. I was thinking of reducing the report content here to Taylor's conclusions, paraphrased rather than the to-and-fro of his detailed arguments/response to police evidence. Pincrete (talk) 20:09, 26 February 2017 (UTC)
I've sandboxed the Taylor Report section of this article here, anybody is welcome to assist in pruning it, or commenting on my pruning so far. Intention is, as above to reduce to Taylor's principal conclusions and criticisms. Pincrete (talk) 09:34, 1 March 2017 (UTC)
As you are thinking about restructuring the article. A problem I have always had with the article, is that the reference to the Taylor Report is buried, yet there are several short form references to it, both before and after that buried reference. May be it is time to extract the main reference from the rest and then always use the short form referencing to refer to it. May be even to use the {{sfn}} or {{harvnb}} templates to form a link. Keith D (talk) 20:03, 26 February 2017 (UTC)
Errrrrrr don't know how to do that! Pincrete (talk) 20:09, 26 February 2017 (UTC)

Minor technicality[edit]

I notice that each coroner's 'inquest', was actually technically 'inquests' (ie covering each of many deaths), sources seem to alternate between singular and plural and IMO it would be confusing to refer to each in plural. Pincrete (talk) 21:54, 26 February 2017 (UTC)

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