“The Board has no confidence in the leadership of the Historical Enquiries Team…”

The Northern Ireland Policing Board has agreed a response to the critical HMIC Report on the Inspection of the PSNI Historical Enquiries Team.  The BBC’s headline may be somewhat misleading, it’s the leadership of the HET that the Board have no confidence in.  From the NI Policing Board statement

The following has been agreed:

  • The Board has no confidence in the leadership of the Historical Enquiries Team and the Chief Constable has been asked to review and action the management arrangements of the Unit with immediate effect. [added emphasis]
  • It is the view of the Board that all military case reviews by the HET are suspended. The HET should continue the process of conducting all other reviews but it should not finalise any cases until all the necessary reforms are completed.
  • The Board has established a dedicated working group to take forward and oversee the implementation of all of the recommendations in the HMIC Report. This group, comprising political and independent membership, will also review PSNI failures to respond promptly to issues raised in relation to the work of the HET. The group will meet next week to begin this work and will report on progress in the Autumn.

They can change the leadership, but it’s still the only show in town that is, you know, actually dealing with the past.  Any replacement requires political agreement…  And, as Brian Rowan points out

When he was here as Chief Constable, Hugh Orde’s idea of an Historical Enquiries Team was not meant as some great answer to the past.

It was about doing something in a situation in which there was nothing.

Doing something after decades of conflict, and doing it because there was no other big or small idea.

“It (the HET) was never ever the answer to the past,” Sir Hugh said last night.

“It was only ever going to be a tiny part, but there was nothing else,” he continued, “and, even now, there is not much else.”

Then he asked the question: “Where is Eames-Bradley?”

He means the report published in 2009 containing a detailed set of proposals; a blueprint including a Legacy Commission with investigation and information recovery units.

It was meant to be within this structure that an attempt would be made in a much broader context to try to address many of the unanswered questions.

Instead of which the HET has been left to muddle along as best it can…

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