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Police: Northern Ireland

Volume 689: debated on Wednesday 21 February 2007

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether operational manpower and funding will be diverted by the Chief Constable from front-line policing in Northern Ireland, in order to enhance the historic enquiries team that will investigate conclusions in the recent report of the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland; and, if so, to what extent. [HL1701]

The historic enquiries team unit was established by the PSNI in January 2006. It is an integral part of the PSNI and it is a matter for the chief constable to take decisions on the most appropriate manner in which to deploy the resources at his disposal.

It is yet to be decided whether PSNI resources or funding will be diverted to the historic enquiries team.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they intend to augment the Police Service of Northern Ireland budget in order to compensate for operational manpower and funding which may be diverted to increased investigations by the historic enquiries team arising from the recent report of the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland. [HL1702]

The Government devote considerable resources to policing in Northern Ireland. The PSNI budget for 2006-07 is £882.4 million with a further £34 million allocated to the HET project. The PSNI budget is considerably more per head of population than in other areas of the UK. Decisions on appropriate allocations of resources are for the chief constable.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What progress there has been in terms of charges for murder arising from the historic enquiries review currently being conducted by the Police Service of Northern Ireland; what has been the manpower requirement of the review, by rank and man-days to date; and what has been the operational cost to date. [HL1703]

The historic enquiries team began work in January 2006. Its aims are to assist in bringing closure to families of victims and to ensure that all investigative and evidential opportunities are examined and exploited in a manner that satisfies the obligation of an “effective investigation”.

The HET is tasked with re-examining 3,268 murders committed between 1968-98. The HET generally examines cases in chronological order and is currently working on cases from 1969 and the early 1970s.

To date no one has been charged with murder as a result of the HET's work. However, many families have been helped as a result of the detailed information about the death of a relative provided by the HET.

The HET comprises 110 staff including nine police officers: two detective chief inspectors, one detective superintendent, three detective sergeants, and three detective constables.

The remaining staff are supplied by agencies on a contract basis and include retired police officers who assist in carrying out review, investigation and family liaison work and administrative staff.

The HET project has been allocated £34 million over six years. Estimated expenditure to 31 March 2007 is £10.5 million.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many murders of Royal Ulster Constabulary GC officers the historic enquiries team of the Police Service of Northern Ireland has investigated to date; how many charges have been laid; and for what offences. [HL1704]

The historic enquiries team will re-examine the deaths of all RUC GC officers killed between 1968 and 1998.

The work of the historic enquiries team proceeds mainly in chronological order. The team is currently re-examining 53 deaths of RUC GC officers. Of these one has been completed with no additional evidential opportunities discovered.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Rooker on 6 February (WA130 ) on the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland, whether exemption from disclosure under Section 40 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 applies to a matter directly affecting a public appointment; and whether they will reconsider their answer to Lord Maginnis of Drumglass's Question (HL1682). [HL1972]

Information supplied in an application for a public appointment is personal information to the applicant. It would not be appropriate to release such personal information to a third party.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Rooker on 5 February (WA 100 ), whether there is a welfare department in the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI); whether the PSNI has a duty of care for serving officers; and, if so, whether records of the uptake of such support are maintained. [HL1973]

There is a welfare department in the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI). Following an internal review, the welfare branch was amalgamated with occupational health service, to form occupational health and welfare, which allows a holistic delivery of service to officers and staff within PSNI. This service is now provided by the PSNI employee support officers under the supervision of a clinical psychologist. Records of the uptake of this support are maintained. The extent of the PSNI's duty of care for serving officers is currently subject to an awaited judicial decision.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Rooker on 5 February (WA 101), whether there is provision for welfare and medical support for long-serving ex-Royal Ulster Constabulary GC and ex-Police Service of Northern Ireland officers; if so, whether records on the uptake of such support are maintained; and how they define their duty of care to these ex-officers; and [HL1974]

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Rooker on 5 February (WA 97), whether there is provision for welfare, medical support or counselling for the wives or dependants of deceased long-serving ex-Royal Ulster Constabulary GC and ex-Police Service of Northern Ireland officers. [HL1975]

The support available for ex-RUC GC and ex-PSNI officers as well as the wives and dependants of deceased officers is provided through a number of channels.

The Police Rehabilitation and Retraining Trust (PRRT) provides a range of psychological therapies and physiotherapy treatments. It also provides a comprehensive service of career and personal development guidance, as well as training and education. These services as well as being available to ex-officers are available (and promoted) to members of the RUC GC Widows Association and the RUC GC Parents Association. Children of deceased officers can receive psychological support through the PRRT Children and Young People's Service.

Further support is also available from the Northern Ireland Police Fund to ex-RUC and PSNI officers seriously injured as a result of terrorist activities. This is also applicable to widows and dependants of officers murdered by terrorist violence.

Records are maintained by both organisations as to all the assistance provided.

The RUC Widows Association, the RUC Benevolent Fund, and the Police Dependants Trust exist specifically to support the families of ex-officers. There are a wide range of charitable organisations that operate in this area. The PSNI Employee Support Service is happy to provide advice about the range of external organisations that are available to assist.