Labour bid for police and criminal justice reforms after Hillsborough verdict

Labour want to "rebalance" the police and criminal justice system in the wake of the Hillsborough inquests and put more power in the hands of ordinary people to get justice.

A proposed package of reforms includes providing parity of funding for legal representation to bereaved families and seeking a Government commitment to the second stage of the Leveson Inquiry - examining the relationship between the police and the press.

The move comes ahead of Hillsborough Family Support Group chairwoman Margaret Aspinall addressing Parliament on Wednesday.

She will talk about her personal experience of the police and the criminal justice system over the last 27 years.

Shadow home secretary Andy Burnham said: "The 27-year struggle of the Hillsborough families exposes just how the odds are often stacked against ordinary families in their quest for truth about the loss of loved ones, with too much power in the hands of the authorities.

"Hillsborough must mark a moment of real change - when Parliament resolves to rebalance the police and criminal justice system and put more power in the hands of ordinary people to get justice.

"Never again should any bereaved families have to fight like the Hillsborough families have had to fight.

"I am seeking to build on the cross-party spirit that led to the Hillsborough verdict to make major changes to how our policing and criminal justice system works.

"We must call time on the uneven playing field at inquests where public bodies spend public money like water on hiring the best lawyers when ordinary families have to scratch around for whatever they can get.

"Public money should be spent on helping us get to the truth, not on protecting the public sector."

Labour will table the amendments to the Policing and Crime Bill, which returns to the Commons next month.

The amendments will also propose that there should be no time limit on the period after leaving the force that a retired officer can be investigated for misconduct, and a ban on unattributable briefings to the media by police about investigations.

Mr Burnham added: "There should be an end to the scandal where police officers can retire on full pensions and, by so doing, evade misconduct proceedings.

"There should be no time limit on police officers who have done wrong being held to account - and this change should be applied retrospectively.

"Those found to have acted wrongly should face reductions in their pensions and be forced to repay any compensation payments they may have received.

"We need to consider new rules to stop unattributable briefings by the police to the press. If the information being provided is the official view of the force then they should be prepared to stand by it.

"After the Hillsborough verdict, Parliament has an unprecedented moment where it can act to rebalance the country in favour of ordinary families.

"I am reaching out across party political lines and calling on MPs on all sides to make Hillsborough a watershed moment for justice in Britain."

Last month a jury concluded that the 96 Liverpool fans were unlawfully killed and that blunders by the police "caused or contributed to" the 1989 disaster.

Read Full Story