Costs of potential Orgreave inquiry ‘must not fall on South Yorkshire Police’, says crime commissioner

Police and pickets at Orgreave
Police and pickets at Orgreave

South Yorkshire Police must not be made to pay for a potential inquiry into the Battle of Orgreave, it has been said.

The Reverend Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire police and crime commissioner, said the decision by the Independent Police Complaints Commission not to investigate potential police misconduct ‘didn’t satisfy anybody’.

It has left question marks for both the mining community and the police force as to whether an inquiry will now take place.

The Battle of Orgeave is the name given to clashes between pickets and police outside Orgreave coking plant in June 1984, during the national miners’ strike.

Dr Billings told a South Yorkshire police and crime panel meeting in Rotherham , that if there was to be a further inquiry all costs must be funded by the Government instead of cash-strapped South Yorkshire Police, which is facing about £17 million of cuts this year.

Dr Billings said: “The IPCC decision didn’t satisfy anybody. It left people in mining communities angry and still wanting to know exactly what happened.

“As long as we have not had something that establishes the facts, there is always the possibility there might be an inquiry to come – that hangs over the police as well.

“If there is to be an inquiry, the Government should see this as a national matter as it was part of a national dispute and it must be treated in that way. We simply don’t have the resources to do the kind of thorough job that would have to be done.”

Coun Emma Wallis, panel vice-chairman, said: “The IPCC decision was absolutely disgraceful.”

The IPCC ruled last month it ‘would not be in the public interest’ to launch a full investigation into claims police used excessive force against miners, had their statements manipulated and gave false evidence in court to justify criminal charges.

It said the ‘passage of time’ meant allegations of assault or misconduct by police could not now be pursued, and that some were subject to complaints and civil proceedings at the time.

During the Battle of Orgreave, 95 miners were arrested after clashes with police left 50 people injured.

When the cases came to court, all were abandoned after it became clear police evidence was unreliable.

South Yorkshire Police referred itself to the IPCC in 2012 after a TV documentary claimed officers may have colluded in writing court statements which saw miners wrongly charged.