Ninety-seven Liverpool supporters died in the 1989 stadium crush during an FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest at the home of Sheffield Wednesday.
In 2012, an initial inquest verdict of accidental death was quashed two decades after it was handed down after campaigning by the bereaved families, and a 2016 inquest found victims were unlawfully killed due to gross negligence manslaughter.
Now, five years on from the release of a 2017 report into the disaster by the former Bishop of Liverpool James Jones, the UK's National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) and College of Policing have become the first major bodies to respond to the probe.
"Policing has profoundly failed those bereaved by the Hillsborough disaster over many years and we are sorry that the service got it so wrong," chief constable Andy Marsh, CEO of the College of Policing, said in a statement.
"Police failures were the main cause of the tragedy and have continued to blight the lives of family members ever since.
"When leadership was most needed, the bereaved were often treated insensitively and the response lacked coordination and oversight."
The disaster was originally blamed on the behaviour of fans after those killed were caught in a crush in a lower-tier enclosure at Hillsborough.
Martin Hewitt, the NPCC chair, said he was "deeply sorry for the tragic loss of life", adding: "Collectively, the changes made since the Hillsborough disaster and in response to Rt Reverend James Jones' report aim to ensure the terrible police failures made on the day and in the aftermath can never happen again."