Comissioner slams IPCC “Battle of Orgeave” decision

SOUTH Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner has slammed a decision not to investigate alleged police wrongdoing surrounding the Battle of Orgreave.

Dr Alan Billings said the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) would “satisfy no-one” by choosing not to conduct an inquiry.

The force referred itself to the IPCC in 2012 over the violent events in 1984.

The watchdog found evidence of assault and perjury by junior and senior officers, but decided this morning (Friday) not to proceed.

Politicians joined the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign in calling for a swift decision.

But this had been an “inordinately long time coming”, Dr Billings said this morning.

He added: “It does not bring closure for the former miners, their families and communities. Their sense of justice denied will continue.

“The psychological and emotional wounds will persist.”

In an IPCC report released today, the inspectorate recommended a wider public enquiry into the incident.

Dr Billings said: “The IPCC also prolongs the uncertainties that hang over those South Yorkshire police officers who were present at Orgreave and will cause dismay to the present generation of police officers who want to acknowledge past mistakes and move to a better place.

“None of this will help to rebuild trust and confidence between the former mining  communities of South Yorkshire and the police.

“I would understand why the former miners would want a thorough inquiry — they want to know the truth and they want closure after so many years.

“However, any such enquiry should not be allowed to be protracted and the costs would have to be borne by the national government and not fall on the present generation of South Yorkshire taxpayers.”

South Yorkshire Police Chief Constable David Crompton has also reacted to the IPCC decision into the investigation of Orgreave.

He said: “For almost 31 years the actions of the police during the so-called Battle of Orgreave, and its pivotal role in the Miners strike, have divided opinion and created controversy.

“In October 2012, following a BBC documentary, there was renewed criticism of police actions. In the circumstances, I felt it would be inappropriate for South Yorkshire Police to act upon the criticisms by reviewing these events itself. I therefore took the decision that a variety of matters relating to police conduct at the Orgreave coking plant, on June 18 1984, should be referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission so that a fully independent assessment could take place regarding whether there had been either criminal conduct or disciplinary offences committed by police officers.

“I note the outcome of the in-depth review conducted by the IPCC which concludes that due to both the evidential and public interest considerations in this case there is no requirement for further investigation into these matters.

“Clearly, if any compelling new evidence comes to light regarding police conduct in the future, this is a decision which can be revisited.”