The shocking revelations from the past month have gripped me as much as the next Red. Harrowing and utterly unbelievable are two words that spring to mind.
The lies, the deceit, the failings. The corruption I think we all deep down knew about, it was just proving the truth. The failings, well that s a different story all together. As a Health and Safety professional I was aghast when I heard that Hillsborough did not have an in-date Safety Certificate. This astonishing fact led me to the Safety of Sports Grounds Act of 1975.
The opening statement in section one states that the Secretary of State requires under the act for sports ground accommodation of more than 10,000 spectators to have a Safety Certificate.
The certificate seeking responsibility lays with the local authority — that being Sheffield Council. Section 10b clearly states that it shall be the duty of every local authority to enforce within their area the provisions of this act and of regulations made under it and for that purpose to arrange for the periodical inspection of designated sports grounds periodical meaning at least once in every twelve months.
Sheffield Council failed in its s statutory duty to ensure compliance to this legal requirement and I believe, in doing so, failed in its duty of care to every single person inside Hillsborough on that fateful day.
There is without doubt, a person/s within the FA at the time who should be held totally accountable for failing to ascertain documented confirmation as to whether the stadium did/did not have a Safety Certificate in place. Just like Sheffield council, that person/s failed in his/her duty of care to every person entering Hillsborough that day.
Put simply, the FA are directly accountable for selecting Hillsborough to host a game for them, whilst utterly failing to ascertain that the stadium was fit and proper for use as accommodation for more than 10,000 spectators.
The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 which is a reserved piece of legislation makes it the prime responsibility of the event organizer (the FA) (whether an individual, collective, or local authority) for protecting the health, safety, and welfare of everyone working at, and attending the event.
This terrible tragedy could have been avoided at it s very source – the stadium. This stadium should never ever have been selected by the FA for an FA Cup tie without proper documented safety checks in place. The fact that it was, sadly, cannot ever be reversed. But, I believe that criminal proceedings should be brought against the very perpetrators of the initial failings which led to 96 innocent supporters of our club not returning home on that terrible day in 1989.
Health and Safety law in the UK has never allowed for persons claiming to not knowing their responsibilities. It hasn’t since 1974, and it must not now.