This week Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) published a searing report following their investigation of the Historical Enquiries Team (HET).
The inspection was commissioned by the Department of Justice for Northern Ireland in response to research conducted by University of Ulster sociologist Professor Patricia Lundy.
The aim of the HET unit, which consists mostly of retired police officers from forces across the UK, including the old Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), was to bring closure to many bereaved families who still had unanswered questions about the death or disappearance of their loved ones.
In a briefing held in the Holiday Inn in Belfast, HMIC officials presented details of their report. The findings were highly critical of HET policies and procedures.
Professor Lundy said, “I am pleased that HMIC’s report validates all of my research findings. It reinforces and adds considerable depth to the serious concerns that I raised. This demonstrates the importance of independent academic research and the impact it can have.”
HMIC’s Terms of Reference specified that their inspection should determine whether HET investigation processes in Royal Military Police cases (involving former military personnel), as outlined in the research conducted by Professor Patricia Lundy, meet the requirement benchmarks and standards.
Professor Lundy said, “HMIC’s report raises very serious questions about the future of the HET. Given the severity of criticisms outlined in HMIC’s briefing today, and my own research findings, I am of the view the HET is irretrievable.”
“We should not lose sight that there will be victims’ families distressed by these findings. Their confidence and trust in the HET process will undoubtedly have been shaken. This will be difficult to rebuild.”
“It is incumbent upon the PSNI, Department of Justice and the NI Policing Board to respond promptly and robustly to HMIC’s findings.”