Four senior South Yorkshire Police officers including Sir Norman Bettinson and David Duckenfield are among those who have been charged in connection with the 1989 Hillsborough disaster.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) announced that six individuals will face criminal offences in the connection with the tragedy in which 96 Liverpool fans died at an FA Cup semi-final match.

The CPS announced that Duckenfield, who was the Match Commander on the day of the disaster, has been charged with the manslaughter by gross negligence of 95 men, women and children. Duckenfield has not been charged with the alleged manslaughter of Tony Bland, the 96th casualty, as he died almost four years later after his life support was switched off.

The CPS alleges that Duckenfield's failures to discharge his personal responsibility on the day of the match were "so extraordinarily bad and contributed substantially to the deaths" of each of those 96 people.

Bettinson, an ex chief inspector with South Yorkshire Police who went to the FA Cup semi-final game at Hillsborough as a spectator, is facing four offences of misconduct in public office in relation relating to telling alleged lies about his involvement in the aftermath of Hillsborough and the culpability of fans.

Former Sheffield Wednesday Football Club's safety officer Graham Henry Mackrell is accused of two offences of contravening a term of condition of a safety certificate contrary to the Safety of Sports Grounds Act 1975 and one offence of failing to take reasonable care for the health and safety of other persons who may have been affected by his acts or omissions at work.

Elsewhere, Peter Metcalf, a solicitor for the South Yorkshire Police during the Taylor Inquiry into the tragedy and the original inquest has also been charged with intent to pervert the course of public justice relating to material changes made to witness statements.

Former SYP chief superintendent Donald Denton and former detective chief inspector Alan Foster have been charged with perverting the course of public justice in relation to the altering of witnesses statement in the aftermath of the disaster.

The defendants, other than Duckenfield, will appear at Warrington Magistrates' Court on 9 August 2017 to face the charges.

South Yorkshire Police chief constable Stephen Watson said: "Decisions concerning the bringing of criminal charges are rightly for the CPS.

"Given that criminal proceedings are now active, it would be inappropriate for me to comment further for fear of jeopardising this important process in any way. In all of this however, our thoughts are with the Hillsborough families as we reflect on the appalling tragedy that is Hillsborough with the loss of so many innocent lives".

A banner reading Truth and Justice is hung from Liverpool's Saint George's Hall and illuminated in red after the Hillsborough inquest verdict Christopher Furlong/ Getty Images

The CPS announced in January that as many as 23 people and organisations could face criminal charges in relation to the cause of the tragedy and the initial reaction as well as the alleged cover-up in the aftermath by West Midlands and South Yorkshire Police.

The CPS are still to make a decision on some of the suspects and have asked for more time to consider cases relating to how West Midlands Police dealt with the aftermath of the disaster. No charges will be brought against Sheffield Wednesday and the South Yorkshire Ambulance Service.

Sue Hemming, Head of the CPS Special Crime and Counter Terrorism Division, said: "Following our careful review of the evidence, in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors, I have decided that there is sufficient evidence to charge six individuals with criminal offences.

"Criminal proceedings have now commenced and the defendants have a right to a fair trial. It is extremely important that there should be no reporting, commentary or sharing of information online which could in any way prejudice these proceedings."

David Duckenfield
David Duckenfield appearing at the Hillsborough Inquest Getty

In April 2016, the Hillsborough Inquest ruled all 96 Liverpool fans who died at the stadium were unlawfully killed, clearing the supporters of any blame after more than 27 years of campaigning. The jury in the inquest, the longest legal case in British history, unanimously answered "No" to the question: "Was there any behaviour on the part of football supporters which caused or contributed to the dangerous situation at the Leppings Lane turnstiles?"

The original inquest verdicts of accidental deaths were quashed in 2012 following the publication of the Hillsborough Independent Panel report.

Among the findings in the report, published following a review of more than 450,000 pages of documents relating to the disaster, was the revelation that police and ambulance services altered statements in a bid to pass the blame for what happened onto "drunken Liverpool fans".

Chair of the Hillsborough Family Support Group Margaret Aspinall, whose 18-year-old son James died in the tragedy, said before the decision from the CPS: "Hopefully this is the journey to the end, completely, of Hillsborough. We've got to wait with anticipation to see what happens."