A specialist police unit set up to investigate more than 3,200 unsolved Troubles murders is set to be wound up in three years, Northern Ireland's chief constable said.
Outlining his timescale for closing down the Historical Enquiries Team (HET), Matt Baggott also rejected loyalist claims that cold case detectives were breaking the terms of an agreed government amnesty by pursuing paramilitaries over past killings.
The HET, which is staffed by seconded officers from other UK forces, was set up in 2005 with a budget of £30 million to independently re-examine 3,269 murders from the conflict.
Hailing the achievements of the team to date, Mr Baggott said there had to be a point when a line was drawn under historic probes so police could focus all resources on the present and future.
"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," he said.
"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."