Operation Resolve releases pictures of 19 spectators as investigation nears final stages
Hillsborough investigators are appealing for help to track down 19 potential witnesses as their inquiry enters its final stages.
Operation Resolve, the investigation into the preparation for the 1989 semi-final and the events of the day, has released images of 19 spectators who were in the vicinity of exit gate C when it was opened at 2.52pm - allowing thousands of Liverpool FC fans into the already full central pens of the Leppings Lane terrace.
Investigators have already interviewed more than 1,200 people about the opening of gate C, which happened eight minutes before the Liverpool vs Nottingham Forest match kicked off.
Speaking outside the Leppings Lane turnstiles, senior investigating officer Detective Chief Superintendent Neil Malkin told the ECHO: “The witness appeal today is for 19 individuals who were outside gate C at 2.52pm on April 15, 1989.
“These individuals were in close proximity to the opening of the gate at that time and have potential evidence which could assist me in my evidence gathering for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).”
He added: “These people are witnesses, they have done nothing wrong.
“Because of the work we have done, we want to focus on them to try and help us conclude some of the work we are doing now.”
He said the Operation Resolve team had people available to speak sensitively to the witnesses if they did come forward.
He said: “We realise it is difficult and people might find it hard to speak about their experiences.”
Video released by Operation Resolve includes a computer generated video of the stadium as it was in 1989.
Potential witnesses have been tracked on footage by specially trained police officers - known as “super recognisers” - who have been able to find better quality images of some of the people they are looking for.
DCS Malkin said: “We have done a lot of work to try and build the context because people recognise themselves as much from the context as the images.”
Inquests into the 96 deaths concluded in April, with the jury finding the victims were unlawfully killed and fans were not to blame.
DCS Malkin said Operation Resolve’s investigation was nearing its conclusion.
He said: “It is in its final stages.
“We have provided a number of evidence files to the CPS and I hope to provide final evidence files by the turn of the year.”
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) investigation, focusing on police actions in the aftermath of the disaster, is expected to conclude at the same time.
If you think you can help Operation Resolve find any of the 19 witnesses call 08000 283284 or go to www.operationresolve.co. uk
The significance of the opening of that gate and what it lead to is huge, any help that anyone may have can be vital.
The Echo has a full gallery of pics and some informative videos in their article, so that hopefully people can look at that too. Their images were coming out a bit too big and blurry when copied on here, so I found these from other articles.