Belfast Telegraph

Boss of under fire cold cases police unit to step down

BY Michael McHugh

The Historical Enquiries Team (HET) is to get new leadership following a sharply critical review of its work in Northern Ireland – although the Chief Constable hasn't ruled out suspending the unit.

Current head Dave Cox is retiring by the end of the year and a PSNI chief superintendent and superintendent will be appointed on September 28 to review all policies, procedures and standards.

It follows a sharply critical review by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) of the HET's work.

Inspectors said the unit, established in 2005 to investigate more than 3,000 unresolved killings, treated those caused by members of the security forces less rigorously than deaths attributed to paramilitaries. Following publication of the report, the Policing Board said it had no confidence in the leadership of the HET. PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott (right) said the new leadership would be asked to take forward the HET. "It is a completely open book for that," he told the Policing Board in Belfast.

The senior officer said they would also fulfil all recommendations made in the recent report.

But he has not ruled out suspending the unit's work, saying that "all options are open".

Mr Baggott also warned that loyalist protests which left hundreds of police injured risk running out of control.

Just under 700 officers have been injured in the last year policing public order – attacked with petrol bombs, scaffolding, bricks and swords – and costs are reaching the highest on record, the Policing Board heard.

Mr Baggott warned those present yesterday: "The protest is in danger of running out of control."

STORY SO FAR

The HET was set up to re-examine deaths during the Troubles. Inspectors accused it of illegally investigating deaths involving Army personnel with less rigour than cases with no State involvement. It further claimed the unit was inconsistent; had serious shortcomings and risked losing the confidence of victims' families.

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