Northern Ireland

New PSNI unit to investigate Northern Ireland's past

Historical Enquiries Team headquarters
Image caption The new unit will take over the work of the Historical Enquiries Team

The Police Service of Northern Ireland is setting up a special unit to investigate the past.

It will take over the work of the Historical Enquiries Team and will start work in January.

Its initial workload will include investigating the Bloody Sunday killings and reviewing letters sent to around 200 republican On the Runs.

Seventy officers and staff will be employed in the unit.

Chief Constable George Hamilton told Policing Board members that current financial challenges had led to a change in how the police service responded to the demands of the past and the pace at which this would take place.

The HET was set up in 2005 as a special investigative unit attached to the PSNI to re-examine the deaths of 3,260 people in Northern Ireland between 1968 and 1998.

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Media captionChief Constable George Hamilton addressed Policing Board members on the new plans

Earlier this year the police announced that financial pressures would lead to the closure of the unit.

Last year the director of the HET Dave Cox stood down after a highly critical inspection report.

Sinn Féin said the new unit would not have public confidence.

"At today's meeting of the Policing Board the chief constable announced the HET would cease to exist on December 31 and will be replaced by a legacy investigation unit early in the new year," the party's Pat Sheehan said.

"We are very disappointed by this announcement as it is clear this new body will not be compliant with human rights legislation, particularly Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights - the right to life.

"In all our engagements with victims' groups they told us that whatever replaces the HET must be Article 2 compliant."

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