Late night police visit to pick me up

Police on your doorstep late at night is never a good sign. If their business cannot wait until the morning, it must be serious, right?

And, so, it happened. Just before midnight, a car pulled up and two uniformed officers came straight to our house.

No, we had done nothing wrong – they didn’t want to question us… or worse! There had been no accidents involving family or friends – they were not bringing us sad news. So, why were they here?

Well, as silly as it sounds, they had come to pick me up ……. off the floor.

You see, I had slipped while transferring from the sofa to my wheelchair, and ended up on the floor.

Despite continued and varied attempts on my part, I was unable to get up – so called 112. This is the emergency number here in Spain, equivalent to 911 in the US and 999 in the UK.

The operator was attentive, reassuring, and efficient. He listened to the facts, understood I have esclerosis multiple (multiple sclerosis), and, after ascertaining that I wasn’t injured and did not need medical assistance, said help was on the way.

And, just 15 minutes later, two Local Police officers arrived to pick me up. This they did quickly and effortlessly and were both courteous and friendly.

Talking of police in Spain, perhaps I should point out that we have three forces – the Guardia Civil, the Policia Nacional and the Policia Local.

The Guardia Civil (Civil Guard) is Spain’s conventional police force which is organised along paramilitary lines and controlled by the Ministry of the Interior. The Guardia has wide ranging responsibilities for national law enforcement and have the resources, powers and facilities of a normal police force. The Guardia Civil polices rural areas and smaller towns as well as the country’s highways.

The Policia Nacional (National Police) is the urban police agency of Spain. They are under the sole authority of Spain’s Ministry of Interior. Like the Guardia Civil it is a conventional police force, that polices cities and larger towns. It is also responsible for border security and issues residencia certificates for anyone wanting to become a resident in Spain and the essential national-registry identification number (NIE). It also undertakes the security of the Spanish royal family and the government. 

Policia Local (Local Police) is the force that is controlled by the relevant regional or local authority. It does not investigate crime but deals with minor matters. These include parking, local traffic control, bylaw issues, and, of course, picking me up off the floor. 

27 years on and the curtain of lies is ripped to shreds as jury blames police for all 96 deaths at Hillsborough


April 15 1989 started off, for me, with a leisurely drive from London northwards on the M1 motorway to the midlands city of Coventry.

There, on that day, my second oldest nephew as well as being my only godson, was marrying his fiancée in the city’s cathedral.

After leaving the reception my then wife and I drove to another midlands town, Loughborough in Leicestershire, to visit long-standing friends of her family.

We didn’t have the car radio on, no news reports and so we had no idea what was going on in the world. In particular, we had no idea of the terrible events happening that afternoon in the ground of Sheffield Wednesday football (soccer) club. A ground that goes by the name of Hillsborough. My nephew’s wedding day was also that of the Hillsborough disaster but we only found out about that when we reached our destination in Loughborough.

A total of 96 Liverpool football fans died that day. They were crushed to death in appalling circumstances that have been argued about ever since. Another 500-plus were injured.

There have been stories, excuses, misinformation and lies – and that was just from the police as they sought to avoid any responsibility. Even the Press were taken in. Horrendous stories were written, most notoriously in The Sun daily newspaper. It published a front-page story headlined The Truth in which awful untrue allegations were made, placing the blame on Liverpool’s fans. It is now known that The Sun’s story was based on untrue ‘information’ from senior officers in South Yorkshire Police.

A coroner’s inquest was followed by other investigations as the families of those who died fought on, fought on for justice. Eventually, the original inquest verdicts were set aside and a new inquest was ordered.

This week, after hearing evidence for two years, the jury reached its verdicts. There is no need to go through all of them but the key ones are:

  • The 96 who died were ‘unlawfully killed’.
  • The behaviour of Liverpool fans did not add to a dangerous situation.
  • The police did make ‘errors or omissions’ that caused or contributed to the dangerous situation at the match and the crush on the terraces.

How those families have fought for justice for so long is beyond me but, four days ago, their amazing dedication and hard work brought tears of relief to a proud city and its people.

The current head of South Yorkshire Police, Chief Constable David Crompton, has since been suspended and I am sure that prosecutions of others must follow.

DuckenfieldIn fact, the man who was in overall command of police at Hillsborough, Chief Superintendent David Duckenfield (now retired) has admitted lying about events that day and must be in line for prosecution. The inquest jurors were instructed that they could only decide that the victims were ‘unlawfully killed’ if they were ‘sure’ that Duckenfield was ‘responsible for the manslaughter by gross negligence’ of those who died. By a majority of 7-2, that is what they decided.