The representative body for police officers in Northern Ireland has expressed concern that relatives of their murdered colleagues could be denied justice under new proposals to deal with the past.
Secretary of State Brandon Lewis has proposed a statute of limitations for Troubles prosecutions up to 1998.
Some 300 members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary were killed during the Troubles.
The Police Federation for Northern Ireland (PFNI) has said Government proposals for dealing with the past “must be fair to officers and ensure they receive the same protections under the law as all sections of society”.
PFNI chair Mark Lindsay said a 1998 cut-off for the statute of limitation on prosecutions means the relatives of hundreds of police officers murdered during The Troubles “will potentially be denied justice and investigations into thousands of attempted murders of police officers set to one side”.
“This is after hundreds of terrorists were released back into society and many terrorist suspects given letters of comfort or pardons,” he said.
“We’ve now heard of the Government intentions and will have to wait for the detail when it’s presented to Parliament in the autumn.
“Drawing a line in the sand will leave many people feeling abandoned and ignored. However, we have to look at these matters in the round and enter a process which sets out a reasonable chance of conviction.
“That becomes increasingly difficult with the passage of time and the failure of this issue to be dealt with under the Good Friday Agreement has meant that many will never see justice.”
Mr Lindsay also said he was not happy that the proposals – which would ban all Troubles prosecutions including of former police officers and of terrorists, “could be seen to create equivalence between terrorists and police officers who worked tirelessly to save lives”.
“Any such link would be abhorrent and without any justification. We will work to ensure there is no such equivalence in the legislation,” he said.
“Let me be clear though, that where evidence exists that a police officer broke the law, then I would expect them to be answerable to it. This has to be on the basis of evidence though and not as a result of conjecture.”
Mr Lindsay added: “Truth is a two-way street and there are many who were involved in terrorism who could be much more forthcoming with information that would give closure to thousands of victims.
“I have always said we should follow the evidence in a manner which will deliver truth for so many families across society who have lost loved ones.”