MORE individuals and organisations might have been charged with offences relating to the Hillsborough disaster had it been investigated thoroughly at the time, the boss of the criminal probe into the tragedy has said.

Assistant Commissioner Rob Beckley, the officer in overall command of Operation Resolve, said it should never have been necessary to set up the investigation in 2012 in order to look into the events at the FA Cup semi-final on April 15, 1989.

The huge criminal probe looked into events leading up to the tragedy and what happened on the day itself.

He said: "We're dealing with evidence that has been corroded over time, people who are not alive any longer, people whose memories are not at all as good as they should be.

"The sooner these things are dealt with appropriately the better, so that's a major lesson and one that actually applies across the criminal justice system, deal with it thoroughly at the time.

"There are organisations that now no longer exist and individuals who are now no longer with us who, if a thorough investigation had been done into their actions and responsibilities, then I think it's quite likely they would have been held to account through these processes.

"But they're not around and the CPS, for good reason, will not give a view on people who are dead."

In 2016 investigators passed 15 files to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) - on 12 individuals and three organisations - but the CPS only chose to charge two of the individuals - match commander David Duckenfield and former Sheffield Wednesday club secretary Graham Mackrell.

The probe looked at events leading up to the tragedy and what happened.

Senior investigating officer Neil Malkin said: "The CPS has got to decide whether there's a realistic prospect of conviction.

"So they've got to apply a different test to us, but an independent test away from the investigation, and they chose that the only two people who would face charges were David Duckenfield and Graham Mackrell and I respect that decision."

The organisations referred were Sheffield Wednesday Football Club plc, the Football Association and South Yorkshire Metropolitan Ambulance Service.

Mr Malkin said Sheffield Wednesday plc, which has now been replaced by a new company, was kept together on paper while consideration was given to whether it was criminally culpable.

He said: "It could have been prosecuted but there was a public interest test by the CPS that decided it wasn't a viable option."

A further seven individuals and two organisation suspected by Operation Resolve of committing an offence were not referred - three of the suspects had died since the disaster and there was insufficient evidence on the other individuals.

Structural engineering firm Eastwood and Partners, which the trial heard wrongly calculated the capacity of the terrace, was not charged as it no longer exists as it did in 1989.

The CPS advised that Sheffield City Council could not be prosecuted under the Safety of Sports Grounds Act because it was the regulating authority and issuer of the safety certificate and therefore could not be subject to offences under the same Act.