Belfast Telegraph

Legacy Investigations Branch: Unit to deal with Northern Ireland's past and Troubles killings will launch in new year

New body will also examine Bloody Sunday

By John Mulgrew

A new replacement unit set up to investigate Northern Ireland's past, including Troubles killings, will begin its work in in the new year.

Chief Constable George Hamilton unveiled the new Legacy Investigations Branch at a meeting of the Policing Board in Belfast today.

It comes after it was announced the Historical Enquiries Team (HET) was to close amid severe policing budget cuts.

It was set up in 2005 to review more than 3,000 unsolved deaths during the conflict.

The new unit will undertake the work previously carried out by the HET, and will work on murder cases which took place prior to the establishment of Crime Operations Department in 2004.

It will also include the Bloody Sunday investigation and the re-examination of the on-the-run cases.

Speaking today, George Hamilton said: "The Legacy Investigations Branch will ensure that we fulfil these legal obligations in terms of reviewing and investigating the past.

"It will assume responsibility for what was previously HET work and any murder cases which took place prior to the establishment of Crime Operations Department in 2004."

He said that although HET would close at the end of this month, its work would continue, albeit at a slower pace as part of the new unit.

"I have agreed to a resource level for this new branch of about 70 officers and staff but current financial and operational pressures mean that it may take some time to get to this figure," he said.

The PSNI is facing massive cuts over the coming years.

That means around 270 fewer recruits next year than previously planned.

Stormont's Department of Justice has asked the PSNI to make a £50 million budget cut.

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