Police team assigned to Muckamore increases five-fold due to 'complexity' of probe
THE number of police allocated to the Muckamore hospital probe has risen more than five-fold in the past two years, it has emerged.
While the PSNI refuse to disclose how many officers have been allocated to the specialist team, The Irish News has learned that a total of 22 detectives are currently working on the case.
When the investigation was first ordered in August/September 2017, just four officers were assigned.
The National Crime Agency (NCA) - dubbed the British FBI - has also been appointed to assist the PSNI's Public Protection Branch.
A specialised viewing room with multiple screens for police to view minute by minute footage of the CCTV footage from wards has also been set up.
No arrests have been made to date.
It is understood interviews of suspects will only begin once all viewing of CCTV images is complete.
Detective Chief Inspector Jill Duffie, who is heading up the case, described it as an "extremely complex investigation".
More than 300 allegations of ill treatment and hundreds of thousands of hours of CCTV images are being probed.
The PSNI Inspector said: "I am very conscious of the trauma and impact upon the families whose loved ones are at the centre of this investigation.
"I understand their frustration and it may be of small comfort to them at this very difficult time, but I would like to reassure them and the public that we are working through every single report and every single minute of CCTV footage to bring anyone guilty of any criminal offences before the courts. This will take some time but we need to take that time to ensure we carry out a thorough investigation.
She confirmed her team had increased and pointed to further detectives being required.
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"As the scale of our investigation has increased, so too has the size of our specialist team of detectives. We keep the resourcing of the team under constant review and we may allocate additional resources in future as the investigation develops," she added.
"The protection of our most vulnerable is a priority for the Police Service of Northern Ireland."