There was a clue in the Chief Constable’s speech this morning to the Dignity and Rights conference. Addressing the NI Policing Board this afternoon, George Hamilton outlined how he planned to address his responsibilities for reviewing legacy cases.
LEGACY REVIEWS AND INVESTIGATIONS
In my October Report, I outlined the effective closure of HET as a result of the end of our temporary workers contract. As Chief Constable, I have a number of statutory responsibilities regarding the past. These include the duty to review cases and investigate where there is credible evidence; as well as our disclosure responsibilities including the requirements of coronial inquests.
HET will close on 31 December 2014 and Legacy Investigations Branch within Crime Operations will commence on 1 January 2015 – we are currently writing to the families who are affected to confirm these details. The new branch will be split into two separate areas of business, namely ‘Reviews’ and ‘Investigations’ and will assume responsibility for the work of HET, murder cases which took place prior to the establishment of Crime Operations Department in 2004 and for the continuation of Operation Redfield (On The Runs) and Operation Jennet (Bloody Sunday).
I have agreed a broad establishment for the new branch (under the leadership of a Detective Chief Superintendent) of approximately 70 officers and staff, however current resource and financial implications mean that it may take some time to get close to this figure.
As mentioned at previous Board meetings, I would welcome an independent scrutiny and assurance panel to examine the work of this branch, as recommended by the HMIC report into HET. It would be of great benefit to PSNI and to the families concerned if this panel was established by 1 January when the new arrangements will be operational, however I appreciate that this remains the responsibility of the Policing Board.