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PSNI legacy probes still need work, says watchdog

By David Young, PA

Published 24/06/2015

Supportive: George Hamilton
Supportive: George Hamilton

More work is needed to instil public confidence in the way unsolved murders from the Troubles are investigated, inspectors said.

Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) said further improvements must be made by the PSNI on legacy probes.

The HMIC has examined current arrangements two years on from its damning report on the now-defunct Historical Enquiries Team (HET) - that had been reviewing more than 3,000 conflict-related killings.

Inspectors said the HET did not probe killings carried out by the military with the same rigour as those by paramilitaries.

The HET was axed last year and replaced by a new PSNI investigation unit - the Legacy Investigations Branch - until a new proposed independent investigation team is established.

The creation of the Historical Investigations Unit was agreed as part of December's Stormont House political deal. But the whole accord is in jeopardy due a major row over welfare reforms.

Of the 20 recommendations made in the original HMIC report, inspectors found 10 implemented; two were part-implemented; three were no longer applicable since the demise of the HET; and five remained outstanding.

PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton welcomed the report. He said it acknowledged that the majority of the 2013 recommendations had been implemented.

"It also acknowledges that some of these recommendations have been overtaken by events, including the formation of Legacy Investigations Branch and the proposal of a Historical Investigation Unit through the Stormont House Agreement," he said. "In the days and weeks ahead, we will consider carefully how to make progress against the recommendations which are relevant to the PSNI.

"Accountability, openness and transparency go to the heart of public confidence in dealing with the past; and this is recognised in the recommendations."

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