George Hamilton: PSNI will not be scapegoat for talks failure

George Hamilton made his remarks at a Policing Board meeting
George Hamilton made his remarks at a Policing Board meeting

The chief constable has said he will not allow the PSNI to become a “scapegoat” for politicians who have failed to agree on how to handle the Province’s troubled past.

George Hamilton addressed a meeting of the Policing Board on Thursday, and offered an insight in to exactly what the lack of an agreement on legacy issues means for the force.

He was speaking in the wake of the ‘Fresh Start’ deal bet ween Sinn Fein and the DUP last month.

Though it contained agreement on a number of issues such as welfare reform, it notably failed to address the Troubles.

Under the Stormont House deal of late 2014, a Historical Inquiries Unit (HIU) of perhaps 300 officers was meant to be set up to solve Troubles cases.

However, there is no mention of this under the new ‘Fresh Start’ accord.

Instead this workload – including probes into Bloody Sunday and the Boston Tapes, plus 937 incomplete cases from the old Historical Enquiries Team – is being dealt with by 55 investigators in the Legacy Investigations Branch.

However, this branch was not supposed to be “a long-term solution”, and the figure represents “55 investigators that we are not using to deal with other serious crimes of the present day”.

The chief constable said: “The Service Executive Team and I are currently considering the broader consequences of the lack of agreement on dealing with the past.

“Whilst the PSNI will never shirk our responsibilities, I will not allow my organisation to become the scapegoat for political failure to reach an agreement on this critical issue.”