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'We need a new way to probe Troubles'

Northern Ireland's retiring Chief Constable has urged politicians to adopt a different way of dealing with the toxic legacy of the Troubles.

Matt Baggott also confirmed to the Policing Board that he was stepping down at the end of June, two months earlier than he had previously indicated – as revealed in the Belfast Telegraph earlier this week.

He said the time had come for the 3,000-plus historical investigations relating to the conflict to be taken over by a separate, independent body.

He said that would "liberate" the PSNI to police the present and future, while also giving greater confidence to victims' families.

"I believe in both justice and truth, but dealing with the past is both debilitating and toxic to confidence," he said.

Mr Baggott said he supported the concept of taking historical investigations away from the PSNI to enable it to focus more fully on policing the here and now.

"It is time to deal with the past in a different way, which does not ignore it but moves it to one side and puts leadership, investigation and resolution in different, independent hands," he said.

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"It may be a false comparison, and I by no means want to diminish the tragedy and hurt of the past, but a comparison I might use is the banking system, which dealt with toxic debts by not ignoring them but it moved them to a different place, so it could be freed up to deal with today's confidences issues."

Mr Baggott is being succeeded by current PSNI Assistant Chief Constable George Hamilton.

Mr Baggott paid tribute to his colleagues, insisting the PSNI was one of the "finest police services in the world".

"I have been hugely privileged to be Chief Constable," he added.

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