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Justice Minister responds to review report on Historical Enquiries Team

Justice Minister David Ford has welcomed the publication of the report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) on the work of the Historical Enquiries Team (HET).
Wednesday, 3 July 2013

I want to thank HMIC for conducting a thorough and detailed review. The report raises a number of serious issues which need to be addressed

Minister of Justice David Ford MLA,Northern Ireland Department of Justice

The report was commissioned by the Minister following a request by the Chief Constable last year.  The Chief Constable had agreed with the Policing Board that HMIC should be invited to conduct an inspection of the HET.  

HMIC’s report includes a total of 20 recommendations aimed at improving the effectiveness of the HET.

The Minister said the report raised a number of serious and important issues that need to be resolved and welcomed the commitment from both the Chief Constable and the Policing Board in moving forward.  

David Ford also said that while much work is now required to improve the effectiveness of the HET, the report also raises significant questions as to how we deal with the past.

David Ford said: “I want to thank HMIC for conducting a thorough and detailed review.  The report raises a number of serious issues which need to be addressed.  

“The Chief Constable has accepted all the recommendations in full and I welcome his commitment to work closely with the Policing Board to ensure the recommendations are implemented.  While raising their obvious concerns, the Board has also set out its commitment to ensuring effective governance arrangements are put in place.  

“The responses today have shown the desire by all to ensure these issues are addressed.  I will be meeting with the Chief Constable and the Policing Board to discuss the report and the work being done to address the issues raised.  My Department will continue to support them both to ensure the HET is fit for purpose.

David Ford continued: “The work of the HET is unique in providing families with as many answers as possible concerning the death of their loved ones, as well as identifying new evidential opportunities.  Families, and indeed society as a whole, need to have confidence in reports from the HET.”

David Ford said that while raising serious concerns, the HMIC report also recognised the positive impact of the HET in bringing some degree of resolution for families.  The Minister welcomed these comments but said the report raised wider issues as to how we deal with the past.

David Ford said: “Dealing with the past is a difficult and complex issue.  There will be no easy solution.  This is not solely a justice and policing challenge.  It is also for others across government and civic society.  I look forward to the establishment of the all-party working group to deal with issues including the past.”

Notes to editors

  1. The full HMIC report can be downloaded at http://www.hmic.gov.uk
  2. The HET is a special investigative unit attached to the PSNI tasked with re-examining the deaths of thousands of people in the civil unrest in Northern Ireland between 1968 and the signing of the Belfast Agreement in April 1998.  It answers directly to the Chief Constable.
  3. All media enquiries should be directed to the Department of Justice Press Office on 028 9052 6444.  Out of hours please contact the duty press officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.