Police Service of Northern Ireland – Improvements still required over the way legacy investigation work is carried out
Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) found that progress has been made but that further improvements are required to the way legacy investigation work is carried out, as the challenge for enhancing public trust and confidence continues.
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HMIC carried out a follow-up inspection to consider the response and progress that had been made against the recommendations of HMIC’s 2013 report entitled: Inspection of the Police Service of Northern Ireland Historical Enquiries Team.
During the follow-up inspection the work of the Historical Enquiries Team (HET) passed to the Legacy Investigation Branch (LIB). On this basis HMIC considered which recommendations from 2013 were no longer directly relevant and which should still be addressed.
Inspectors found that progress has been made, such as:
- the development of a comprehensive Manual of Guidance underpinned by robust policies and procedures;
- improvements to record keeping in relation to the work being undertaken, and decision making; and
- the development of a rigorous induction programme, which prepares people well for the role they will be undertaking.
However, HMIC remains concerned about three overarching issues that were the subject of our initial recommendations, these are:
- vetting to ensure independence;
- the management of intelligence; and
- openness and accountability.
HM Inspector of Constabulary Mike Cunningham said:
“It is vitally important that the public can have trust and confidence in the way legacy investigation work is carried out.
“HMIC recognises that improvements have been made against the 2013 recommendations, and that a small number are no longer directly relevant given the transfer of work to the Legacy Investigations Branch; however there are still improvements that could be made.
“We hope that this report of our follow-up inspection will help to inform those who are responsible for carrying on this very important and sensitive work.”
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- In 2012, HMIC was commissioned by the Minister of Justice for Northern Ireland to inspect the role and function of the HET. HMIC published a report based on this inspection in 2013. This can be found on our website.
- HMIC committed to review progress made against the 2013 recommendations. Fieldwork for this re-visit inspection was conducted between September 2014 and February 2015.
- The HET was set up to investigate unsolved murders committed in Northern Ireland between 1968 and 1998, in order to bring closure to bereaved families with unanswered questions about the death or disappearance of their loved ones. The review set out to determine whether HET’s approach conforms to current policing standards and policy; if it adopts a consistent approach to all cases and if its approach to cases with state involvement is compliant with the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR).
- HMIC inspects and regulates all 43 police forces in England and Wales together with other major policing bodies such as the Serious Organised Crime Agency, the Police Service of Northern Ireland, the British Transport Police and HMRC.