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Police chief in pledge over legacy inquests

Published 04/02/2016

Chief Constable George Hamilton acknowledged there were things the PSNI 'need to get better at'
Chief Constable George Hamilton acknowledged there were things the PSNI 'need to get better at'

Northern Ireland's police chief has vowed to work with the region's senior judge to find a way round the logjams in legacy inquests.

George Hamilton acknowledged there were things the PSNI "need to get better at" but insisted not all the problems with the stalled coroners' probes were the fault of police.

Mr Hamilton's remarks at the monthly meeting of the Policing Board in Belfast came in the wake of a recent judge-led review of 56 legacy cases, related to 95 deaths, that are still stuck in the system.

Throughout the two-week exercise, Lord Justice Weir was highly critical of the time the PSNI has taken to disclose classified documents to the coroners' courts.

The review was ordered by Northern Ireland's Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan in a bid to find a way forward.

Addressing board members, Mr Hamilton reiterated his view that sequencing the cases, rather than trying to run multiple inquests at once, would make for a better system.

"We do accept that because we have had to move from one case to the other, without getting things finalised, timescales aren't kept," he said.

"That is the subject of adverse judicial comment and therefore has a negative impact on confidence in policing.

"I accept all of that. So what I want to do is work with the Lord Chief Justice, the Courts Service and the other stakeholders in this to find a solution to make sure the inquests do what they are supposed to do, but in a way that is more organised, more scheduled, more prioritised and better managed."

He added: "Lord Justice Weir's commentary would indicate there are things that we need to get better at and there is more resource required. We need to find out who is going to pay for that, and all the rest of that.

"So there is an openness on our part to do things differently and to improve and change for the better."

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