Northern Ireland news

PSNI to give priority to some Troubles cases

Chief Constable George Hamilton
Connla Young

PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton has said it will give priority to Troubles investigations with the best chance of securing a prosecution.

Addressing a conference in Belfast yesterday, Mr Hamilton spoke about the force's controversial Legacy Investigation Branch, which was set up last year to take over the work of the Historical Enquiries Team (HET).

The HET had provided families with reports on the deaths of loved ones during the Troubles.

Mr Hamilton said his statutory responsibilities "do not require me to continue the work of HET; nor can I afford to take on the scale of this additional responsibility”.

“Instead, PSNI’s Legacy Investigation Branch will use a Case Sequencing Model to bring to the fore those relatively small number of cases which have the greatest potential to bring offenders to justice, particularly those who continue to be involved in serious crime today,” he said.

“Progressing these investigative opportunities is entirely in keeping with our statutory requirements.”

The Legacy Investigation Branch (LIB) came in for criticism last year after a cross-party Westminster committee said it does not comply with European law because it is not independent from the police.

A planned Historical Investigations Unit was supposed to take on the work of the LIB as part of political agreement on dealing with the past.

However, nationalists say a deal fell through after the British government introduced a ‘national security veto’ on the flow of information.

Responding to Mr Hamilton last night, Relatives for Justice spokesman Mark Thompson said: “It would be more helpful to ask Teresa Villiers to remove the road block around national security.

"That’s where his focus would be better placed.”

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