A little lost amongst the election campaign, the BBC discovered in early May via the Freedom of Information Act that there are 1,143 unsolved murders in the United Kingdom. We are told that the police never give up on finding the culprit though clearly the murderer of David Ombler is most unlikely ever to be caught seeing as he was murdered in 1914. The BBC tells us that the policy is to look at a case every two years to see if anything more can be done in the effort to bring the murderer to justice.
Of course Freedom of Information requests require the public body in question to comply and all but two of the UK’s police forces did indeed comply. One which did not was Gwent (and London’s only went back as far as 1996). One other force which did not supply any information was the PSNI: apparently they did not see fit to reply which is interesting since they have 3,269 unsolved murders including 211 of their own officers. Not only that but just before the other forces released their figures as they are required to do, Matt Baggot, the Chief Constable of the PSNI, announced that the Historical Enquiries Team would have only another three years to investigate the murders of the Troubles and had this to say:
“My personal view is I want to set a three-year timescale within which we will have resolved as far as we can the outstanding investigations.
We will have dealt with and helped victims to move on and we will absolutely then be in a position to stop looking back and start looking forward.
Three years for me is an appropriate timescale. My ambition will be in the future when it comes to my turn to hand over to a new chief constable I will give them the opportunity to only look forward and not look back all the time.”
Interestingly Baggot was previously chief constable of Leicestershire Constabulary which was willing to produce its figures and has 13 unsolved murders. It is unclear whether Mr. Baggot feels that the unsolved murders in Leicestershire are only worth another three years investigation. However, as I have said previously many seem to place a lower value on human life here in Northern Ireland: a certain prelate rated it at only £12,000, so one can hardly be surprised if the religious Mr. Baggot feels a life here is only worth three years.