South Yorkshire Police fear £6m deficit

South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Billings at home in Sheffield
South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Billings at home in Sheffield

South Yorkshire Police are set to be left £6 million out of pocket after paying the legal costs of officers involved in the Hillsborough inquests.

The Home Office has agreed to award South Yorkshire Police £10.7 million to pay for legal costs.

South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Billings at home in Sheffield

South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Billings at home in Sheffield

The money will go towards the costs of representing eight former and serving police officers and the current Chief Constable in the inquests into the deaths of 96 football fans at Sheffield Wednesday’s football stadium in April 1989.

But the force has already spent around £12 million and estimates there could be a £6 million shortfall in total.

The invoices paid to legal firms since the start of the inquests do not cover the last three months, when key police figures have given evidence, including David Duckenfield, who was match commander on the day of the disaster.

South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Dr Alan Billings today warned the gap in funding was ‘very bleak news for the financial position of South Yorkshire Police’.

“This figure is a very early estimation of the costs that we face. We have not yet received the invoices for January to March 2015, a period where there was significant witnesses giving evidence at the inquests,” he said.

“My office will continue to analyse the true impact on the budget and the effect that this will have on the provision of police services within South Yorkshire.

“This estimated figure, and therefore the estimated shortfall, does not take into account other potential special grant applications for other police officers who have applied for financial assistance, nor the continued representation of those currently covered by the special grant that will continue to be represented during 2015/16.”

Dr Billings warned: “This is very bleak news for the financial position of South Yorkshire Police and we have a lot of work to do, including continued dialogue with the Home Secretary to establish a way forward that will relieve the burden on the public of South Yorkshire.”