IPCC 'can't cope with fans probe'

Banbury Cake: Yvette Cooper questioned the IPCC's ability to conduct an investigation into the Hillsborough disaster Yvette Cooper questioned the IPCC's ability to conduct an investigation into the Hillsborough disaster

Questions have been raised about the ability of the police watchdog to cope with its own investigation into the Hillsborough disaster.

MPs said they were concerned the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) did not have the resources or manpower to handle the investigation on its own as it emerged it had been given the names of 1,444 officers, including the identities of 304 who are still serving.

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said the investigation could not be run just by the watchdog, while Keith Vaz, Labour chairman of the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, said there was a "problem in respect of resources".

Speaking during a debate in the Commons, Ms Cooper said: "It is clear this investigation cannot be done solely by the IPCC, they have neither the powers nor the resources to do so ... these investigations are beyond the scale of anything the IPCC have done before and it will also require powers that the IPCC simply doesn't have."

The watchdog was asked to investigate South Yorkshire Police's role in the disaster which claimed the lives of 96 Liverpool fans during a crush at Sheffield Wednesday's stadium in April 1989.

The damning Hillsborough Independent Panel report revealed a cover-up took place to shift the blame on to the victims and that 41 of the lives lost could have been saved.

Meanwhile, Mr Vaz said he favoured the idea of a special prosecutor being appointed to look at all the cases and to act as a co-ordination point. He added: "As I said to the House earlier, 1,444 names have been sent to the IPCC, of that 304 are still serving officers at South Yorkshire. So immediately when you look at the numbers of names that have been referred there will be a problem in respect of resources.

"I think that we should not wait for the IPCC to come and see the Home Secretary, actually a meeting needs to be convened pretty quickly to ask them what they need and to give them the resources that they need."

Home Secretary Theresa May said she would work with Labour to see if new laws were needed to compel former officers to co-operate with the IPCC. "This includes proposals to require current and ex-police officers who were maybe witnesses to a crime to attend an interview, and whether this might require fast-track legislation," she said.

Speaking during the opening of a Commons debate on the Hillsborough Independent Panel's report, Mrs May added: "There is the IPCC investigation and there is also the investigation that is taking place by the DPP (Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer). If he believes that wider investigation is necessary the Home Office will make resource available under the ambit of the incoming National Crime Agency, with an investigator who is completely separate and has no connection whatever with these particular issues."

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