On 3 March 1989, the Presidency of Yugoslavia imposed special measures assigning responsibility for public security to the federal government.
Police presence at the previous year's FA Cup semi-final (also between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest and also at Hillsborough Stadium) had been overseen by Chief Superintendent Brian L. Mole. Mole had supervised numerous police deployments at the stadium in the past. In October 1988 a probationary PC in Mole's F division, South Yorkshire was handcuffed, photographed, and stripped by fellow officers in a fake robbery, as a hazing prank. Four officers resigned and seven were disciplined over the incident. Chief Superintendent Mole himself was to be transferred to the Barnsley division for "career development reasons". The transfer was to be done with immediate effect on 27 March 1989.