Officers ‘were geared up for a fight at Hillsborough’, inquest hears

The inquest heard earlier this week from another police officer who described chaos and a lack of control as the disaster unfolded

Crime Correspondent

Police officers who had prepared themselves for violent confrontation with football fans at the Hillsborough disaster were told to “wipe the smiles” from their faces when they faced dying people, the inquest heard yesterday.

Reinforcements had been looking forward to dealing with pitch invaders before they learnt they were dealing with a fatal crush on the terraces, according to a barrister representing some of the families of the 96 Liverpool fans who died.

Stephen Simblet suggested to an officer on duty at the 1989 match, Richard Barnes, that the officers were expecting confrontation with fans after they were told of a “critical incident” at Hillsborough following fighting on the pitch.

Sgt Barnes told the inquest: “As we travelled in the van, yes: fight or flight.”

The officer had been on duty in Rotherham on the day of the disaster when all available units across the South Yorkshire were called to the stadium. The officer’s unit first went to Hammerton Road police station, close to the stadium, the inquest was told.

The inquest heard earlier this week from another police officer who described chaos and a lack of control as the disaster unfolded.

Mr Simblet said: “It would appear that the impression was given ... that some among you were expecting some form of confrontation because somebody said words to the effect, ‘You had better wipe the smiles off your faces because people are dying’.”

Sgt Barnes said: “Certainly not looking forward to confrontation, but obviously the reason we attended there was totally different to what we were informed.”

The jury has heard the match commander Ch Supt David Duckenfield ordered an exit gate at the ground to be opened shortly before kick-off for the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest on 15 April 1989.

Supporters were still massed outside the ground at the Leppings Lane turnstiles with the central pens already filling up. An estimated 2,000 fans came in when the gate was opened and a “significant number” headed for the tunnel under the seated tier above, leading directly to the central pens of 3 and 4 behind the goal, where 96 fans were crushed to death.

The hearing, in Warrington, was adjourned until Monday.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Life and Style
Suited and booted in the Lanvin show at the Paris menswear collections
fashionParis Fashion Week
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Kara Tointon and Jeremy Piven star in Mr Selfridge
tvActress Kara Tointon on what to expect from Series 3
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
An asteroid is set to pass so close to Earth it will be visible with binoculars
news
News
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Credit Controller / Customer Service

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This rapidly expanding business...

Recruitment Genius: Electronics Engineers / Senior Electronics Engineers

£25000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Based in Henley-on-Thames, this...

Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Associate / Partner - Bristol

Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project