By Tony Collins
Today’s Independent Panel report into the Hillsborough tragedy says that the Police National Computer was accessed – possibly unlawfully – to collect information on some of the 96 men, women and children who died because of events on 15 April 1989.
The report says that a solicitor involved in the Hillsborough inquests disclosed a document to the Panel showing that criminal record checks were conducted selectively on some of the deceased who had recorded blood alcohol levels.
To protect the privacy of the deceased the Panel decided not to make public the document. Instead it described the process through which an attempt was made to establish links between blood alcohol levels and previous criminal convictions.
The Panel’s report says the document indicates that a Police National Computer (PNC) check was conducted on all who died at Hillsborough for whom a blood alcohol reading above zero was recorded. Says the Panel’s report:
“It [the document] includes a handwritten list of the names, dates of birth, blood alcohol readings and home addresses of 51 of the deceased and provides screen-prints apparently drawn from the PNC.
“A summary of the results appears on the front page, establishing the number ‘with cons’ (convictions)…
“There is no record of who conducted the checks or precisely when the checks occurred. The National Policing Improvement Agency, the organisation responsible for the PNC, confirmed to the Panel that information has not been retained within the PNC.
“It is the Panel’s view that criminal record checks were carried out on those of the deceased with recorded blood alcohol levels in an attempt to impugn personal reputations.
“There is, however, no evidence to suggest that this inappropriate – and possibly unlawful – exercise was used in the investigations, inquiries or inquests.”