Northern Ireland

Legacy investigations to start again from early May

Commissioner for Victims and Survivors Judith Thompson.
Commissioner for Victims and Survivors Judith Thompson.

Troubles legacy investigations, suspended due to the coronavirus crisis, are to resume again from the start of May.

Legacy investigations were suspended as part of the Covid-19 planning as the PSNI directed all available officers to front line duties.

Deputy Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said that the "Legacy Investigation Branch (LIB) was one of a number of functions within PSNI that were redeployed in order to provide immediate resilience to PSNI’s critical functions".

However, he added that following a meeting of the PSNI’s Service Executive Team this week "it was agreed that this temporary suspension would be lifted and that officers and staff within Legacy Investigation Branch would resume their normal duties with effect from May 1, 2020.

"Having implemented a range of social distancing measures we have been able to limit the numbers of COVID-19 related absences to levels which have allowed us to sustain service delivery across the organisation and in this case return officers who had been providing resilience to those functions to their core roles", he added.

Members of the Victims and Survivors Forum were provided with an update on legacy investigations yesterday.

The Commissioner for Victims and Survivors Judith Thompson welcomed the decision to restart the LIB in early in May.

"It was most important that the Commission and The Victims and Survivors met with the Chief Constable to discuss legacy matters, and the vital need for a victim and survivor centred approach in relation to ongoing legacy investigations", she said.

"During the meeting members of the Victims and Survivors Forum talked more widely on Legacy issues and agreed that the current policing architecture was not designed to support legacy investigations.

"It is to the benefit of all of civic society in these islands to understand the needs of victims and survivors of the Troubles in pursuit of a better future", she added.

Chief Constable Simon Byrne said he was determined to "provide a service to victims of the Troubles which is not only fair and transparent, but also done with compassion and empathy".